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The sentence I told you so is deeply satisfying Granted, the satisfaction you feel when you say it only lasts a minute or two, but for a little while, as you do your I told you so dance, you get to feel that thrill of vindication sweeping through your veins I often feel this way when an author or illustrator I ve liked over the years starts garnering a little notice Admittedly Helen Frost is maybe not the best example I could call up After all, she won a Printz Honor a couple years back for her book Keesha s House and her recent picture book Monarch and Milkweed has been getting nothing but sweet sweet loving from professional reviewers All that aside, I ve never felt that anyone has ever given Ms Frost enough attention for her cleverness When The Braid was published several years ago it was so smart, so sharp, and so interesting that it took everything I had not to bop people over the head with it at dinner parties BOP Read this BOP Read this No such bopping will be necessary with her newest novel, though Diamond Willow aims younger than Frost s usual teenaged fare Examining the relationship between a girl and her sled dog, Frost combines her standard intelligent wordplay with a story that will catch in the throats of dog lovers and people lovers alike.Take the branch of a willow tree, carve it down, get to the center, polish it, and there where the scar of a living branch remains you will find the shape of a diamond A diamond willow branch is pretty special but middle schooler Diamond Willow, named after the natural wonder, doesn t feel very special at all She has a hard time making friends at school and sometimes it seems like her dad loves his sled dogs than her Not that Willow doesn t love the dogs too, particularly Roxy, the smart and clever lead dog who always knows the way Willow s getting older and one day she convinces her parents to let her take the dogs to her grandparents house When tragedy strikes and Roxy s eyes are harmed along the way, Willow does whatever she can to protect her furred friend from her parents flawed intentions As she does so, secrets long since buried begin to come to light and Willow gets a better idea of who she is and what Roxy really means to her Every page containing Willow s thoughts appears in the shape of a diamond, a buried message found at the heart of each of these free verse poems.Maybe the reason Frost s The Braid never got the attention it deserved was that it was too clever for its own good As I recall, Frost braided her poems over and under themselves, weaving sentences and even details like her characters ages into the mix Or maybe the reason was simpler than that Maybe people just don t appreciate it when a poem is smarter than they are None of this is to say that Frost hasn t been doing some pretty fancy footwork with this book too.The fact that a shrub willow s diamond pattern forms when a piece of it has been roughly hewn away in some matter is than a little significant to this tale As with a real diamond willow, the center of each diamond poem contains a dark spot at the center Often Frost will place certain letters in bold at strategic moments If the reader chooses to read these dark words on their own, they ll encounter thoughts and feelings hidden within Willow Many of these feel as if they are her innermost feelings The kind of gut reaction or subconscious understanding that she may not even be aware that she feels On page six, for example, Willow describes her state in life In the middle of my family in the middle of a middle size town in the middle of Alaska, you will find middle size, middle kid, me It doesn t look like much when I pull the sentence apart and place it on a page like this, but the message of find me is clear as crystal This is someone who wants to be found, even if she can t express it directly Authors always try to find new and interesting ways to have their characters say what they think, and at the same time express what they mean Frost s technique is perfect for child readers and may cause them to concentrate a little as they read each section.Willow is part Athabascan, a fact that is important to the story As she continues along her way her narrative, which began entirely with her diamond shaped thoughts, is broken up by the voices of animals And a few of these animals appear to be related to her The first time you see one of these sections, usually written in a straightforward prose style, it is introduced with, John, Willow s great great grandfather Red Fox And sure as shooting, we re hearing the impressions of a fox who just so happen to have also have been related to Willow in a past life It s tricky territory taking any particular ethnicity and assigning a spirituality to it that may or may not belong to the author herself I m not saying I was offended, but it s a difficult path to walk and I don t know that Frost need have gone that route Due to the fact that Roxy s speech near the end wraps up a lot of loose ends, I understand the desire to make someone else talk beforehand, but it s still sketchy territory At least Ms Frost handles it tastefully in any case.Far kid friendly than her previous books, Helen Frost has a knack for writing free verse novels that never feel like someone took a page of prose and broke it up arbitrarily Every sentence, word, and syllable in this book is crafted and honed If a diamond willow branch needs to be polished to look and feel right then I think it s safe to say that just as much polish must go into Ms Frost s four sided works of art A dog story sure, but one that definitely forgive me separates itself from the pack Animal poetry done right Ages 8 14. Started a bit slow, but I really liked the ending Written in a very similar style to Hidden by the same author, with the story told in verse with an additional message revealed on each page Ages 8 and up. Diamond Willow is told through a series of narrative poems interspersed with prose chapters The poems are from the viewpoint of the protagonist, and the prose chapters are from he perspective of other characters The poems are in the shape of a diamond, with words in bold in the center that form additional sentences This is to mimic the look of diamond willow wood, which is a pretty cool idea.However, I have a hard time with using format to try and add meaning to words Would the bold words have made better titles for each poem Was any of the narrative improved by the format Not for me, and the centered justification was a bit much to take.That being said, this is a shorter book, and I can see some in the target audience 3 5 grades really enjoying this aspect Onto the narrative itself, the story is excellent and well paced and will really get readers thinking about family, friends, and what makes life so special Highly recommended to any interested in native Alaskan culture, animals, nature, or just looking for a good story about a 12 13 year old finding her place. I make a point of telling everyone who will listen that the best writers are children s YA authors The last two books I finished The Underneath by Kathi Appelt and this one are perfect examples Books that are funny, heartbreaking, suspenseful, hopeful without crossing the line into sappiness just beautifully written books.Diamond Willow is written in a sort of prose, with 90% of the pages containing diamond shaped text Within each diamond shaped page is a hidden message in bold print This may seem gimmicky, but it works because Frost is such a great writer who has so much respect for her audience 10 14 year olds, by my reckoning The character of Willow is a bit of an outcast, as so many lead characters in young adult literature tend to be, but she is so believable the choices she makes, the things she does, the words she says very true Willow lives in a remote town in Alaska, where she longs to take her family s sled dogs out for a run on her own One of the dogs, Roxy, is particularly special to Willow and her father I don t want to give away much of the story, so I ll stop there, but I can say that it took me about 3 hours total to read Oh, and Helen Frost lives in my hometown of Fort Wayne. I listened to this story on CD It has received the following awards Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Pennsylvania Center for the Book , Mitten Award Michigan , and Texas Lone Star Reading Lists 2009.This is a story about a girl named Diamond Willow she goes by Willow who lives in Alaska Willow sees herself as an average girl that doesn t stand out at all She doesn t have many friends, but she loves her family s sled dogs Unfortunately there is an accident while she has the dogs out and one of them, Roxy, becomes blind The author goes on to finish a story about love, family, and friendship I m disappointed I did not also have the actual book I read reviews that explain how the author writes the poetry of the story in the rough shape of a diamond The lines of the verse also contain hidden notes designated by bold words throughout the writing I will definitely be getting the book so I can see how it is written.One of my favorite aspects of the writing and the CD is that intermittently, there are voices of animals which are her ancestors These animals play interesting parts in the story, and help the reader to understand a little bit about Willow s culture I only gave it 4 stars because it was a little slow at the beginning I would use this book with upper elementary students, perhaps to study story elements and plot This storyline nicely follows the typical story structure. Willow Diamond Willow is her full name named after the trees that have diamond shaped scars lives in a small, remote town in Alaska with her parents and her younger sister and their sled dogs She s rather shy and doesn t have a lot of friends, but she loves her dogs especially Roxy, their lead dog Willow convinces her parents that she s responsible enough to take the team to her grandparents house 12 miles away along a packed snow trail The trip out goes without a hitch, but on the way back, Willow gives Roxy her head and as they re running at top speed, they crash into a fallen tree Roxy is injured blinded by the branches , and Willow must use her wits to save the dog and herself When they return, Roxy is taken to the vet, whose prognosis is not good he recommends that she be put to sleep, because she ll never see or lead a team again.When Willow learns what her parents plan to do, she comes up with a plan of her own she will take Roxy to her grandparents house and see if they will keep her She can t do it alone, though, because someone has to make sure Roxy stays on the sled So, Willow enlists the help of her only friend, Kaylie A storm catches them out in the open on the wrong trail and they re forced to build a shelter for themselves and the dogs Minutes from Willow s grandparents house, they are discovered Kaylie s boyfriend finds them and takes Kaylie home Willow makes it to her grandparents shortly thereafter and she and the team are taken in and cared for until her parents arrive Everyone has an opportunity to talk about how much Roxy means to them, and together they decide to keep her That s also when Kaylie learns that she s a twin, and that she lost her sister, Diamond although she kept her name , 4 days after she was born.Everything starts to change after that Willow makes some new friends people are interested in her adventures and her dog and Willow finds that she s not so afraid of people she s willing to open up a little and share something of herself with them Willow and Roxy also share a secret Roxy can see, but she doesn t want anyone except Willow to know her wish has always been to be an inside, family dog, even though she was a talented sled dog.This is written in a very unusual visual format diamonds to match the Diamond Willow , each with several words highlighted in the center that have special meaning It has a very multi layered, free verse feel to it as a result There s a lot of possibly Inuit folklore woven into it, too the idea that ancestors come back as animals to look in on and look after their still living, human families All of the animals in this story are relatives a mouse, a lynx, even the dogs Roxy, however, is closest of all, being the reincarnation of Willow s twin sister Helen Frost even narrates some of the story from the animals points of view I thought it worked very well, stylistically, and I really liked this It s a little spare because of the verse and the nature of Willow she s quiet and shy, as well as strong and resilient But it fits the setting Alaska, also quiet and remote I wish the author had included full color photos of actual Diamond Willow branches sticks There are some black and white images small that head the ancestors chapters, but they don t really give you a sense of the real thing. This was a wonderful book I couldn t get over how clever the author was by writing poetry within poetry I found myself looking forward to turning each page and going right to the bolded words so I could figure out what was going to happen next and what Willow was thinking In addition to this unique and compelling literary element, the author told a great story The main character, Willow, is so likable and you really found yourself cheering her on while she attempted to take the dogs or mush them to her grandparents house The story took a sad turn when Roxy, her favorite dog, got injured The author did a terrific job of keeping the reader interested in how Willow dealt with this injury and in telling the reader how important Roxy was to her The addition of various viewpoints from other people in the story added an extra layer of understanding for the reader One of my favorite parts was the addition of Roxy s POV, which explained her feelings towards Zanna Overall, this was a very heartwarming story with a good ending and an intriguing delivery I think any elementary or middle school student would enjoy this book. *DOWNLOAD PDF ↿ Diamond Willow ↰ There S To Me Thanmost PeopleseeTwelve Year Old Willow Would Rather Blend In Than Stick Out But She Still Wants To Be Seen For Who She Is She Wants Her Parents To Notice That She Is Growing Up She Wants Her Best Friend To Like Her Better Than She Likes A Certain Boy She Wants, Than Anything, To Mush The Dogs Out To Her Grandparents House, By Herself, With Roxy In The Lead But Sometimes When It S Just You, One Mistake Can Have Frightening Consequences And When Willow Stumbles, It Takes A Surprising Group Of Friends To Help Her Make Things Right AgainUsing Diamond Shaped Poems Inspired By Forms Found In Polished Diamond Willow Sticks, Helen Frost Tells The Moving Story Of Willow And Her Family Hidden Messages Within Each Diamond Carry The Reader Further, Into Feelings Willow Doesn T Reveal Even To Herself Diamond Willow Is A Bank Street Best Children S Book Of The Year I m reading Diamond Willow by Helen Frost Imagine looking outside and seeing a blanket of sparkly white snow In Diamond Willow a girl named Willow lives in Alaska and gets to see sparkly snow everyday One day Willow goes to her grandmother s house with her dog Roxy and gets hurt because she slips on ice The external conflict is that Willow doesn t want to listen to her parents about giving Roxy away.Her parents say she can never go to her grandmother s house again without them and that they have to give Roxy away because she becomes blind and now is useless The internal conflict that Willow faces is giving Roxy away She Gets so upset about this so she runs away to her grandmother s house and gets stranded for 2 days without food or water in the cold The moral or lesson in the story is that you should take your parents advice when they tell you not to do something because it s dangerous I liked all the describing words the author used to make the story sound interesting I think a 5th, 6th or 7th grader would like this book Overall this book was a pretty easy read. Aside from the fact that I don t believe all the pieces are poems indeed, I don t think MOST of them are so the author s claim in her introduction of these being diamond shaped poems does not gel with my perception of poetry, the book is really STRONG.Of course, love the design and the hidden heart message in each piece Love the magical realistic spirited animals of the deceased Love the surprising twists toward the end about Roxy Diamond Totally enjoyed the realism of this young girl s search for self and the missing half even without knowing it at first Much enjoyed the setting and the supporting characters This has been such a pleasure to read.Notes to self p 69 If the Spruce Hen can recognize Albert in the Lynx form, why couldn t the Chicadee recognize the Spruce Hen as Jean Ah some of them could figure out who others are, but others can t So glad that it got resolved.