Diverse, Realistic, and Uplifting

Summary:

Sixth grader Ally Nickerson is gifted with math and artistic abilities. Sh is also dyslexic, which makes reading difficult. She feels self-conscious and dumb and just wants to be like everyone else. She longs for friends, which has been a difficult task because her father is in the military, her family moves often, and school bullies Shay and Jessica enjoy making fun of her. Now in middle school, Ally has lots of strategies - humor, pretending to be sick, acting out - to hide or divert attention from her learning disability. Byt her strategies aren't working for her new teacher. Mr. Daniels, can see through those ploys! Through a variety of learning methods and cooperative projects in his classroom, Mr. Daniels helps not just Ally, but all of his students feel more confident. 

Like Ally, her brother Travis is also very talented. He is a young engineer who can fix anything, and thanks to Mr. Daniels, Ally realizes he may have difficulty with reading, too, and she has a way to help him.


BTSYA Teen Reader (11):
I like this book because it is interesting, has a lot of details and humor, has a good storyline, and is easy to understand. Usually, some books bore me but Fish In a Tree made me want to read more and more. I also liked seeing Ally's progression. At the beginning, she could barely read in front of the class, always got in trouble, and had no friends. Towards the middle, she started to learn to read better, wasn’t getting in trouble, and started to make new friends.

This is a book appropriate for kids ages 7 to 12 because it has no curse words or graphic scenes. It would be a great read-aloud in for third through fifth grades. Overall, I think this is a good book to read and a great book to read for real aloud.

BTSYA Teen Reader (15):
Fish in a Tree is engaging and definitely worth the afternoon it took to read it. There are many embedded life lessons and the author uses great analogies throughout the book. The issues highlighted in this book are relevant to the middle school experience: fitting in, making friends, helping others, accepting others as they are, overcoming personal insecurities, and finding your own talents and showcasing them. Tt is nice to read a story with positive ways to deal with such things. 

While Fish in a Tree is geared towards middle school-aged girls, it should be known that any gender will enjoy the read and perhaps take a way some new perspectives and learn a lesson or two. The situations are extremely relatable not just to someone in middle school, but anyone with a learning difference.

There is nothing graphic or offensive to note. However, there are instances of bullying. To me, it is simply representing a sad reality and needed to convey important messages and lessons to the reader.  I highly recommend this book for anyone ages 11 and older.  I believe that readers under that age group may not understand the lessons or be able to relate to the things that Ally faces.

Fish in a Tree would be a great gift for anyone who faces learning differences, because it’s a story of overcoming obstacles and becoming the best version of yourself.

BTSYA Young Adult Reader (23):
Each child character in Fish in a Tree is incredibly well-developed for a novel aimed at middle-grade readers. Allies and antagonists alike have a personality, backstory, and chances for growth. We learn alongside Ally as her classmates change from acquaintances to friends. Through Ally and her friend we explore racial differences, economic class differences, and learning/social differences, and much more. The author has expertly defined her characters by their vibrant personalities, not by defining them by their differences.

Fish in a Tree is a must-read for anyone who reads at or above middle-grade level. Through the author's well-crafted story, the world is given a chance to see the world through the eyes of child with different learning needs, something rarely encountered. This is a wonderful gift for parents, teachers, children, and yourself.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers will not only connect (and cheer for!) Ally, they will become immersed with life in Mr. Daniels' classroom AND have the chance to grow as Ally and her classmates do.

Content Awareness Factors:

None. There is some bullying, including physical attacks on another student. This may be unsettling to some readers.


Type of Book:
This is a realistic story about life in middle school, told through the eyes of a dyslexic student.
Educational Themes:

Where to start? Ask your reader to share their thoughts about the story every couple chapters or so. Their takeaways will easily guide the discussion and create wonderful opportunities for conversation. Ally and her classmates aren't unforgettable characters who stay with you, so car rides, family meals, are great chances to talk.

Albert comes to school with bruises caused by bullies. This is a sad reality of school for some children. Talk with your kids about the appropriate ways to help someone who is being bullied. Who are the trusted adults at school or home they can go to for support and guidance?

 

Reading Level:
3.7
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer ages: 11, 15, 23
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. This is a book you will love so much you'll want to read it again - after you share it with a frirend.

Title Fish In a Tree
Author Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Publisher Puffin Books, a Penguin Random House Company © 2017 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780142426425
Material Paperback
Cost $7.99
Genres Friendship, Disabilities | Developmental Challenges
be the star you are Cybils
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