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Fish in a Tree
Cover of Fish in a Tree
Fish in a Tree
The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives listeners an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who's ever thought there was something wrong with them because they...
The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives listeners an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who's ever thought there was something wrong with them because they...
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Description-

  • The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives listeners an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who's ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn't fit in.

    "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.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover Chapter 1: In Trouble Again

    It's always there. Like the ground underneath my feet.
    "Well, Ally? Are you going to write or aren't you?" Mrs. Hall asks.
    If my teacher were mean it would be easier.
    "C'mon," she says. "I know you can do it."
    "What if I told you that I was going to climb a tree using only my lips? Would you say I could do it then?"
    Oliver laughs, throwing himself on his desk like it's a fumbled football.
    I see the world as mind movies in my head that are silly and exaggerated. But they are private and only for me. For Oliver everything is exaggerated on the outside so everyone sees.
    Shay groans. "Ally, why can't you just act normal for once?"
    Near her, Albert, a bulky kid who's worn the same thing every day—a dark t-shirt that reads, Flint—sits up straight. Like he's waiting for a firecracker to go off.
    Mrs. Hall sighs. "C'mon, now. I'm only asking for one page describing yourself."
    I can't think of anything worse than having to describe myself. I'd rather write about something more positive. Like throwing up at your own birthday party.
    "It's important," she says. "It's so your new teacher can get to know you."
    I know that, and it's exactly why I don't want to do it. Teachers are like the machines that take quarters for bouncy balls. You know what you're going to get. Yet, you don't know, too.
    I fold my arms and close my eyes. Hoping that when I open them she'll be gone. But she's still there.
    "And," she says. "All that doodling of yours, Ally. If you weren't drawing all the time, your work might be done. Please put it away."
    Embarrassed, I slide my drawings underneath my blank writing assignment. I've been drawing pictures of myself being shot out of a cannon. It would be easier than school. Less painful.
    "C'mon," she says moving my lined paper toward me. "Just do your best."
    Seven schools in seven years and they're all the same. Whenever I do my best, they tell me I don't try hard enough. Too messy. Careless spelling. Annoyed that the same word is spelled different ways on the same page. And the headaches. I always get headaches from looking at the brightness of dark letters on white pages for too long.
    I tap my pencil, thinking about how we had to dress up as our favorite book character for Halloween last week. I came as Alice in Wonderland, from the book my grandpa read to me a ton of times. Shay and her shadow, Jessica, called me Alice in Blunderland all day.
    Mrs. Hall clears her throat.
    The rest of the class is getting tired of me again. Chairs slide. Loud sighs. Maybe they think I can't hear their words: Freak. Dumb. Loser.
    I wish she'd just go hang by Albert, the walking Google page who'd get a better grade than me if he just blew his nose into the paper.
    The back of my neck heats up.
    "Oliver. Get back in your seat," she says and I'm grateful that he draws attention away. But then she's back to me. "Ally?"
    I don't get it. She always let me slide. It must be because these are for the new teacher and she can't have one missing.
    I stare at her big stomach. "So, did you decide what you were going to name the baby?" I ask. Last week we got her talking about baby names for a full half hour of social studies.
    "C'mon, Ally. No more stalling."
    I don't answer.
    "I mean it," she says and I know she does.
    I watch a mind movie of her taking a stick and drawing a line in the dirt between us under a bright blue sky. She's dressed as a sheriff and I'm wearing black and white prisoner stripes. My mind does that all the time—shows me these movies that seem so real that they carry me away inside of them. They are a relief from my real life.
    I steel up inside,...

About the Author-

  • Lynda Mullaly Hunt (www.lyndamullalyhunt.com) has received many honors for her debut novel, One for the Murphys, which is on over twenty state award lists, including Bank Street's 2013 Best Books of the Year. She's a former teacher, and holds writers retreats for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, impetuous beagle, and beagle-loathing cat.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Ally Nickerson has kept her learning difficulties hidden in seven different schools. But her sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Daniels, recognizes her troubles--and her vivid imagination. This story might be preachy without its quirky characters and Kathleen McInerney's energetic narration. McInerney balances the heartfelt emotions about struggle and friendship with a distinctive portrayal of every character, adding depth to the story. She voices Ally's discomfort in a way that seems painful, but she also projects Ally's strength when she stands up to a teacher who shows prejudice towards her friend Keisha. The other main characters are well defined--Keisha comes through clearly, and the robotic-sounding voice of Albert seems apt for his brilliance. Secondary characters are also clear, especially the kind Mr. Daniels and a menacing bully. S.W. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 1, 2014
    Sixth-grader Ally Nickerson has been to seven schools in seven years, and the same thing happens at each one: she spends more time in the principal’s office than in class. The pattern is repeating at Ally’s current school until a long-term substitute teacher, Mr. Daniels, discovers that Ally is acting out to hide the fact that she can’t read. Ally is deeply ashamed and has bought into what others have told her—that she’s dumb and worthless—but Mr. Daniels helps her understand that she has dyslexia and see her talents and intelligence. As Ally’s fragile confidence grows, she connects with two other classroom outsiders, Albert and Keisha. Hunt (One for the Murphys) leans heavily on familiar types (a two-dimensional mean-girl and her sycophantic best friend, a teacher with unconventional methods) and a surfeit of relevant metaphors (coins valuable because of their flaws, former planet Pluto—“Too small. Too far away. Orbit not just right”—and so on). Nevertheless, her depiction of Ally’s learning struggles is relatable, and Ally’s growth and relationships feel organic and real. Ages 10–up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

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