“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” ~Fish in a Tree
Ally is in sixth grade and has moved from school to school. Up until this point she has been smart enough to fool almost everybody she meets. Of course this also involves getting in a lot of trouble, but it's worth it, or so she thinks, to save face. Everything changes when she gets a new substitute teacher Mr. Daniels, who refuses to send Ally to the principal like her other teachers did. He seems to believe in her and makes her want to read and do better in all of her subjects. But she just can't understand the words she sees on the pages of her books and papers! It doesn’t help that there is a group of girls who seem out to get Ally and they make fun of her whenever they can. When Mr. Daniels offers to work with Ally after school, it isn’t long before he thinks he’s discovered why she's been having such a hard time learning to read and write, even though she is very smart and good at figuring out puzzles. Will Ally be able to catch up with the work? What about the girls that are mean to her? Is it possible to ignore their taunts? Read this heartwarming story to find out more.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a book I have wanted to read since I first heard the title and saw the cover. My heart went out to Ally because I know what it's like to be a struggling reader. I liked getting to know some of the kids in her class. Ally was kind to everyone, even the people that weren't nice to her. I kept wishing she would ask for help instead of getting in trouble all the time, so I was glad when a teacher came who wouldn't let her continue that cycle. This book will inspire teachers to help kids who need extra practice and may be seeking out attention as a way to distract from that fact. The title of the book is fitting because all creatures have special things they are good at, as well as areas that are hard or impossible for them (a fish climbing a tree). Ally judges herself for not being able to read like everyone else, but she has reasons that make it hard for her to decipher words. I recommend this book to people in fourth grade and up who like realistic stories that make them feel good.
Has anyone else read Fish in a Tree? Or have you read another book by Lynda Mullaly Hunt? We’d love to hear your thoughts!