Making the Grade / Fish in a Tree


Making the GradeMy teachers have always emphasized the different ways one can learn and think, a lesson that has stuck with me as I have grown as a student. There’s a number of learning styles that can bring variety to a classroom: some work better visually, others like to hear concepts explained, and many grasp ideas best in hands-on learning. Lynda Mullaly Hunt explores the same idea in her newest novel, Fish in a Tree, whose protagonist, Ally, struggles with dyslexia. My expectations were high {Hunt’s debut, One for the Murphys, was outstanding}, but this insightful middle grade read was plenty satisfactory. I share my full thoughts below!

“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.”

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. {Goodreads}

Fish in a Tree Making the GradeNeed more convincing? Here’s what other reviewers had to say.
“As I read it, I couldn’t help but think of the incredible connections and conversations this book would spark.  How so many of my students would find themselves within the pages, how so many of my students would find hope within the story” {read the rest of the review at Mrs. Ripp Reads HERE}.

“Hunt writes with a light touch, never negating the powerful feelings that Ally is wrestling with and how serious her issues are. Yet it is that soft touch that allows the book to be so effective in its approach to dyslexia and the variations in the ways different brains think” {read the rest of the review at Waking Brain Cells HERE}.

“If you’re looking for a realistic feel-good book about adolescence, this will hit the spot. The characters, their relationships, and their struggles are so real, and the ending will make you smile and wish for a sequel” {read the rest of the review at Good Reads With Ronna HERE}.

Let’s discuss! Have you read One for the Murphys or Fish in a Tree? Do you have any recent middle grade books to recommend? It won’t be until the summer that I get a chance to read it, but I’ve seen this novel compared to Wonder, a book that has long been on my TBR list. The good books never end!

Have a happy Tuesday!


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