Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
[Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]
First, I’ve decided to stop giving my reviews fanciful titles and just use the book titles instead, because I realized 1) folks out there may not know immediately which book the review is for; and 2) my review won’t come up as easily if someones does a search for reviews on a certain title. Oh well, so much for creativity.
Anyway, I was in two minds about this book, although I was hooked from the first chapter. My heart went out to Ally from the first chapter, and I so wanted her to succeed. Each chapter is like a snapshot of an event in school for Ally (with more than one event in a day sometimes, and so a day stretches across chapters), and many of them spoke to me with a different lesson each time I finished one. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling that Hunt took longer than necessary to tell the story, and I would have liked her to flesh out Mr Daniels’s character a little bit more. In fact, I would have liked Hunt to also talk more about Albert, Keisha and Shay. But then, I’ve always liked to read books written from the perspective of children, so maybe that’s why I was craving for more from the other children too.
VERDICT: This is a short book, and might appeal to folks who would like to know a little bit about dyslexia, as well as folks who can relate to living or interacting with children who have dyslexia. But I thought it might also be a relevant read for teachers, because it’s a reminder that sometimes, kids who are seen to be misbehaving, may just be calling out for help.
For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:
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. Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her and to everyone than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.