Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: Fish in a Tree is a great story of perseverance and grit. Ally is great at math. She is incredibly artistic and possesses an ability to visualize moving pictures in her mind. Reading for Ally is a complete torture and almost impossible for her as the letters will not stop moving enough for her to concentrate. By using her wits and becoming a "troublemaker, she's been able to keep her shameful secret hidden. Her new teacher at school, Mr. Daniels, is able to see right through the defenses she's built. 
  Mr. Daniels is an inspiring teacher who is able to lift Ally's self confidence and encourage her thinking outside of the box. He begins to identify Ally's learning disability of dyslexia and offers help. While Ally struggles to accept the help that Mr. Daniels offers, she also deals with a father deployed in the Middle East, her crushing loneliness of being an outsider with no friends, and an awful set of mean girls at school who look for any and every opportunity to humiliate her. Ally's voice leaps off the page and it was so uplifting to see her grow as a character. Not only is her pain and sadness authentic, but she learns to never give up and look beyond societal labels to make great friends. I also really appreciated how the ending was not an after school special but shows Ally following Mr. Daniels' footsteps in helping others.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff, Wonder by R.J. Palacio
2 Responses
  1. This book covers such an important topic--specifically dyslexia, but the broader issue of students who act out in order to mask issues. It sounds like a really good one for struggling students (and their teachers)

  2. I like that this one features a teacher as a positive role model. Not happy about the mean girls.

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