My unbridled enthusiasm for Gary Paulsen’s books and my respect for his storytelling skill surpass anything I feel about so many other writers. Gary Paulsen is a literary treasure, and The Haymeadow is but one of many great books that he’s written. The Haymeadow is a coming-of-age story, told in a straightforward manner, and captivating in its presentation. John Barron is just fourteen years old and presented with the task of caring for several thousand sheep in the haymeadow, just as his father and grandfather had before him. He must handle this immense task with only two horses and four dogs for company. Left to fend for himself, Barron’s summer in the haymeadow turns into a long and difficult learning experience. Plagued by floods, coyotes, a bear and a constant string of bad luck, he learns to rely on his wits and ingenuity to extract himself from the difficulties that life has thrown at him. Paulsen is a master of characterization and The Haymeadow puts you right into John Barron’s boots every step of the way. I enjoy Paulsen’s books because he is always able to handle interesting topics and fascinating characters without making it seem like he’s preaching. His down-to-earth style and vivid prose add depth to everything he writes. The Haymeadow is exciting and swift, with an ending that handles an interesting plot twist with care. I own a nice stack of Paulsen’s books including The Winter Room, The Monument, Hatchet, Popcorn Days & Buttermilk Nights, Harris and Me, The Beet Fields and more. His books generally fall into the “Young Adult” category but don’t let the label stop you from reading his great books.