One of the perks of working in a library is that I see a LOT of books that I would otherwise miss. When Fish in a Tree was turned in, the title caught my eye. I read the back cover and immediately placed a hold for it– since the copy that was turned in was going elsewhere.
Fish in a Tree is a YA (young adult) novel about a girl named Ally Nickerson. She doesn’t know how to read, and knows that she is different from other kids her age. She has always acted out and been able to hide her struggles from everyone- her teachers, mom, brother, etc.
Ally is a lonely kid without friends. She feels like she is dumb and will never be able to do anything like anyone else and really hates being different. She loves drawing and has a book called “The sketchbook of Impossible Things” that she draws in daily.
When Ally’s teacher goes on maternity leave, she ends up with a substitute teacher. Mr. Daniels changes her life. He observes all of the students in her class in a completely different way. He catches on to Ally and her struggles. He instructs everyone to write in a notebook daily. He says that he won’t grade it at all or correct their spelling errors. He will just write back.
Through his observations, he notices something important about Ally. He invites her to play chess after school. After a few after school meetings with Ally, he tells her that he thinks he knows why she can’t read. He tells her that he thinks she has dyslexia. He helps her learn to read by using many tricks that are helpful for those who have dyslexia.
Ally realizes how much SHE has changed. She has made friends with other kids who are different. She is happy. The whole class sees her through different eyes, and so does Ally. She realizes how smart and talented she is. She also realizes that all kids have their struggles and that she was never alone in them.Labels no longer matter, and for the first time ever Ally is truly happy. She also realizes that she can no longer draw many things in her sketchbook, because nothing is IMpossible.
This is such a great read. I wanted to read it so that I could see what life may be like through my daughter’s eyes. I was brought to tears on many occasions because I realized how hard things must be for her. It was eye opening and also incredibly inspiring. Just knowing how much harder my daughter has to work than most kids to read– and that she is willing to FIGHT to learn it– is incredible.
I can’t recommend this book enough; especially if you have a child with dyslexia or that is differently abled.
(Reading guides show in photo.)