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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Diamond Willow, written by Helen Frost. Farrar, Douglas & McIntyre, 2008, $18.50 ages 12 and up

It's impossible to do justice to the beauty of design in this poetic story. So, I will not include a quote from it; but, I will strongly urge you to see if you can find a copy so that you, too, can enjoy the beauty of the land, the young woman, and especially the superbly chosen language used to tell it.

A young girl who loves her family, her dogs and her life in Alaska seeks solace in her Athabascan roots in a quest to find her place in the world. Willow loves to run the dogs with her father and at twelve, she thinks she is old enough to take to the trails and make the trip to her grandparents on her own. After much pleading she gets her wish. You know that all will not go well. Along the way as we hear the voices of her ancestors watching over her, we learn Willow’s story.

Told in free verse, with each entry shaped like a diamond and containing a bolded message for the reader, we are sled riders when Willow’s adventure turns tragic and frightening. Help comes from surprising places and while Willow thinks she is more interested in blending in than sticking out, she finds inspiration in the discoveries that she makes on her journey to being her best self.

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