- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 and up
- Lexile Measure: 0550 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (February 5, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399162593
- ISBN-13: 978-0399162596
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 456 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#6,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #27 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Special Needs
- #148 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > School
- #225 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Friendship
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Fish in a Tree Hardcover – February 5, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—In her second middle grade novel (One for the Murphys, 2012), Mullaly Hunt again paints a nuanced portrayal of a sensitive, smart girl struggling with circumstances beyond her control. Ally is great at math, and her ability to visualize moving pictures makes her an amazing artist, but she has a terrible secret: reading is almost impossible for her. By using her wits and adopting a troublemaking persona, she's been able to avoid anyone finding out a truth she is deeply ashamed of, but a new teacher at school seems to see right through the defenses she's built. While Ally struggles to accept the help that Mr. Daniels offers, she also deals with a father deployed in the Middle East, crushing loneliness, and an authentically awful set of mean girls at school. Ally's raw pain and depression are vividly rendered, while the diverse supporting cast feels fully developed. As the perceptive teacher who finally offers the diagnosis of dyslexia, Mr. Daniels is an inspirational educator whose warmth radiates off the page. Best of all, Mullaly Hunt eschews the unrealistic feel-good ending for one with hard work and small changes. Ally's journey is heartwarming but refreshingly devoid of schmaltz.—Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT
* “Unforgettable and uplifting. . . . Deals with the hardships of middle school in a funny, yet realistic and thoughtful manner. Ally has a great voice, she is an unforgettable, plucky protagonist that the reader roots for from page one. This novel is a must-have.”—School Library Connection, STARRED REVIEW
* “Filled with a delightful range of quirky characters and told with heart, the story also explores themes of family, friendship, and courage in its many forms. . . . It has something to offer for a wide-ranging audience. . . . Offering hope to those who struggle academically and demonstrating that a disability does not equal stupidity, this is as unique as its heroine.”—Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
* “Mullaly Hunt again paints a nuanced portrayal of a sensitive, smart girl struggling with circumstances beyond her control. . . . Ally’s raw pain and depression are vividly rendered, while the diverse supporting cast feels fully developed. . . . Mr. Daniels is an inspirational educator whose warmth radiates off the page. Best of all, Mullaly Hunt eschews the unrealistic feel-good ending for one with hard work and small changes. Ally’s journey is heartwarming but refreshingly devoid of schmaltz.”—School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“[Hunt’s] depiction of Ally’s learning struggles is relatable, and Ally’s growth and relationships feel organic and real.”—Publishers Weekly
“Poignant. . . . Emphasis on ‘thinking outside the box’ . . . Ally’s new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read. Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.”
“Reminiscent of Polacco’s wonderful Thank You, Mr. Falker. . . . Ally’s feeling of loneliness and desire to fit in will resonate with young teen readers, as many share those feelings without the difficulty of dyslexia. . . . A tribute to teachers who go the extra mile to reach every student. . . . A touching story with an important message.”—Voice of Youth Advocates
“Entertaining dialogue . . . Ally’s descriptions of her ‘mind movies’ are creative and witty. . . . The treatment of a group of sixth-graders with various quirks who face down their bullies extends the book’s interest beyond the immediate focus on dyslexia.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Readers will . . . cheer for this likable girl.”
—The Horn Book
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Top customer reviews
Fish in a Tree is a novel for young people. Moreover, it is a novel that would have real value for teachers and aspiring teachers. Plus, the parents of both children who learn differently and children who learn relatively normally could benefit from reading this story. The reason I think it has great value to be read by many audiences is because of the topic the author explores and the manner in which she presents it.
This is a story of a sixth-grade girl, Ally, who is not able to read in any functional manner. It is also the story of her peer relationships, family relationships and relationships to school and school people. Those human relationships and the authentic glimpse of the struggle of one nonreader are at the core of this book.
I was illiterate until I was eighteen. I learn differently than most. I am now sixty-seven and I have been a first and third grade teacher, an elementary principal, and a superintendent. I have earned a doctorate and have taught at the university level. I have some firsthand knowledge on this topic and my belief is that the ensuring that all students become literate cannot result from adopting a simple teaching method.
Helping someone to learn who learn differently requires teachers, parents and others to embrace complexity. This novel conveys the complexities of who Ally is and what makes her unique. Moreover, as this novel points out very well - helping others to learn who learn differently requires that teachers, parents, and others see possibilities and help the nonreaders to see possibilities as well. Each learner must be connected with as a unique individual and be appreciated and respected for their current strengths. It takes teachers, parents and others who can see the positive future in the learner even if the learner may not see it. Then, of course, our focus is to help the learner to see how their own, maybe highly unique, path to literacy can be built.
My path, like the paths of many others, to literacy has not been smooth. Learning to read at eighteen for me has meant that even today I am a slow, sometimes plodding reader that still stumbles as I strive for solid comprehension. Moreover, as an oral reader I am prone to skip and/or incorrectly pronounce words – my grandchildren have learned to gently correct me.
Overall, I have learned to stick with the text and reread when I am missing the message. At sixty-seven, I am still learning to write – oh my am I pleased that spell check was invented. I stick with my writing, too. Rewriting and reworking until I am comfortable sharing. Being literate did not come easy to me and it is not smooth sailing, even now. The turning point for me and Ally was seeing that it was ‘possible’!
Hats Off! Lynda’s book tells a story that can help others to see the possibilities of literacy for all.
Most recent customer reviews
Summer reading but while I was reading it and i was pretty glad I was forced to read it lol...Read more