“Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Fish in a Tree  Sixth grader Ally Nickerson is in her 7th school in 7 years due to her father being moved around in the military. She is not “book” smart, but has been smart enough to fool everybody so far: she cannot read.  She is actually quite smart, but doesn’t want to share her problem.  She thinks she is just ‘dumb’.  Then her pregnant teacher leaves and her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, recognizes her artistic talents and aptitudes- and also Ally’s real problem: she has dyslexia.  The fact that no one detected the real problem all along seems a little far-fetched although it gets covered by the constant moving around.  The true gem in this book is the teacher, Mr. Daniels, and his students.  As a misfit, Ally discovers the other ‘misfits’ in the class and they bond and become friends.  The mean, popular girl who antagonizes Ally and the other students who don’t fit in, gets her comeuppance, but is given sympathy and a second chance.  As a teacher, I enjoyed watching the brilliant Mr. Daniels motivate and connect to each student.  He doesn’t allow Ally to avoid or hide anymore and she is finally given the help she needs and allowed to shine. A feel-good read that brought a tear to my eye!

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