Friday, July 01, 2016

Fish In A Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

For years, Ally has had creative ways to avoid revealing that she can't read.  She tries to read, but the letters just seem to swim around and she can't put them together.  Her efforts to avoid detection, meanwhile, get her into lots of trouble -- with her teachers labeling her a troublemaker and her classmates teasing her as a freak.

But a new teacher sees through her subterfuge and helps her to uncover the cause of her learning differences.  And with the confidence that this brings, she discovers her strengths and inspires her classmates.

Pitched at middle readers, the story of a girl struggling with dyslexia is far from fluff.  Instead, it takes on a wide variety of serious topics including bullying, racism, poverty, and separated families.  I'd have preferred more focus, but the shotgun approach does permit quite a variety of discussion topics.  The ending is also a bit too perfect but the story picks a wonderful pay-it-forward theme that provides heartwarming and redeeming closure.  Readers will enjoy Ally's kind heart and perseverance, and despite her numerous flaws and mishaps, will cheer the way that the novel rewards her in the end.

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