Classes around the world are currently enjoying Lynda Mullaly Hunt‘s One For the Murphys as they take part in the Global Read Aloud 2014. Like many other readers, I fell in love with the story of Carley and her foster family, the Murphys. After enjoying Hunt’s first novel so thoroughly, I eagerly waited for what was next. I wasn’t disappointed.
Fish In A Tree, scheduled for release on February 5, 2015, rose right to the top of my new favorite books list. The main character, Ally Nickerson, struggles against dyslexia, the low expectations of teachers, bullies, and her own insecurities in this brilliantly written novel. The storyline is heartbreaking at times and laugh out loud funny at others. Readers will undoubtedly read from start to finish, devouring the wonderful plot, but hopefully return to Hunt’s words again and again, recognizing the artful craft of her writing.
After spending many years being passed from teacher to teacher and school to school, Ally knows that she’s different. She doesn’t learn like everyone else in her class. In fact, she’s sure that she isn’t smart at all. Labeled a behavior problem, she has become very good at getting out of school work and meeting everyone’s low expectations. The new substitute teacher in her class, Mr. Daniels, suspects that there is something more to Ally Nickerson than failing grades and visits to the principal’s office. And Ally is surprised by his persistance, kindness, and genuine interest; qualities she’s never seen in her teachers before now.
Thank You, Mr. Falker has always been one of my favorite picture books, and Fish In A Tree is chapters and chapters of Mr. Falker goodness. I can think of countless students to whom I could recommend this book. But, what I really hope is that many many teachers and parents read this wonderfully written story that highlights the struggles that are true to life for so many boys and girls.
And thank you Ms. Hunt for bringing the struggles of dyslexia to life with your story of Ally. You leave your readers with hope. Always.
“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.”
~ Albert Einstein