I have posted before about the wonderfully talented Helen Frost. With each successive book, I am more and more certain that she should be our Poet Laureate. Not just for children, mind you, as her work transcends age limits. Her latest offering is no exception. It is tough to come back from setting up exhibits and conducting a preconference and find energy to read. However, I had slipped DIAMOND WILLOW into my suitcase just in case there was some time. I opened it late yesterday afternoon and sighed as I closed it completed a few hours later. Willow and her family live in Alaska. She has grown up feeling somehow alone and unfriended. All that changes in a heartbeat when her beloved dog Roxy is injured as Willow sleds home from her grandparents' home.
There is not much I want to reveal from here. However, knowing the format of the book is bound to reel in my English teacher pals. Here Frost uses a diamond pattern for her poems that tell the story. In the pattern are some highlighted words that serve to "sum up" (for lack of a better term) the words of the particular poem. Interrupting these poems are narratives from some of the animal spirits who hover and range near Willow and her family. This created for me a mood similar to the one I experienced in Paulsen's DOGSONG. But there is more to this novel than the shapes and the bolded text. There is the deep and abiding love of family and the world in which it resides that spills off each page. Truly, this is one worthy of reading and reflecting.
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