cover image The Haymeadow

The Haymeadow

Gary Paulsen. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (195pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30621-8

When John is 14, a shortage of hired hands compels him to spend the summer caring for several thousand sheep in a high-country meadow. Several days' ride from the ranch, John has only himself to rely on when disasters strike, and he learns that he is more resourceful and resilient than he'd guessed. The Newbery Honor-winning author writes with power and at times grace of the relationships between man and animal--whether examining John's custodianship of the sheep, his complex interdependence with his dogs and horses or his view of the creatures that prey on the flock. And, as in earlier novels, Paulsen describes taut scenes of physical drama and suspense. But the book's pacing is skewed--the first third is devoted to setting up the scene, after which the action is numbingly relentless--and a subplot concerning John's idealization of his great-grandfather and sudden intimacy with his father is forced and unconvincing. Ages 10-up. (June)