Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Willow is a twelve-year-old who wants to be home-schooled by her grandparents. Her father is one of the teachers at her middle school in Alaska. How weird is that? She wants to be popular without sticking out in the crowd. She desires to show her independence and responsibility by mushing her father's best dogs to her grandparents house by herself. Her parents eventually allow her to go, but on the return trip the lead dog, Roxy, gets seriously injured because she was going too quickly. We know that there is something special about Roxy and Willow will not leave her side.
We know Willow, but why is the book called Diamond Willow? I will not divulge all of the secrets, but diamond willow has a gray, rough bark and the center has a diamond at points where it has been stressed. Willow increases her understanding about scars and diamonds that bind families together. Willow gains insight into her place in the community and her own strengths.
Did I mention that she is part Athabascan Indian? If that wasn't interesting enough, did I tell you that Willow has a group of guardian animals watching over her? Only the pages that have dialogue from the animals are in regular script. Almost the entire book is written in the shape of diamonds (no two are alike) with a special "diamond" in the center. This time the diamond is bold font that when read reveals a secret thought of Willow. So creative - I wonder what clever book idea you will conjure up some day.