Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree 
By: Lynda Mullaly Hunt 

Release Date: February 5, 2015
Audience: Grades 5 and up 
Pages: 288

The Story 

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.

Provided by Goodreads 

The Book Trailer 


This gives a wonderful overview of what it is like to have a learning disability. I am really appreciative to have a book that covers Dyslexia so well. I think many kids and educators will benefit from reading this & I appreciate that it brings awareness of it in the classroom. 
Since many students deal with these issues, I think this book also has a lot of kid appeal that will promote some positive discussions. 


I felt like the bullying was a little much. An aspect of it was needed to give a realistic look at learning disabilities, but I think the author could have toned it down a little. I also wish the author touched on how learning disabilities are hereditary. I think it would have been more powerful if we found out that Ally's mom or dad struggled with these issues too. 

Thoughts from a Dyslexic

I am not normally one to pour my heart out online. In fact, it is a rule of mine not to.  After I read this book though, I had so much to say. 

This book is really near to my heart. I myself have Dyslexia. I am not someone who cries, but this book really got to me! I found myself crying like a baby. 

As I read Ally's story, I was put back into my childhood struggles. Let me just say it is unbelievable  hard to be Dyslexic.

I felt like the book did a wonderful job of detailing the struggle of learning to read, but it didn't cover other aspects that dyslexia impacts. 

I wanted to take a moment to talk about these, because  I still struggle with my dyslexia everyday.

 It isn't something you grow out of, and it isn't something you are done with once you learn to read.

Here are a few things that I still really struggle with: 

1. Conversation 

People with dyslexia often have difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking

When I am in a conversation with someone, I will often forget a word I am trying to say. This usually ends up in what comes out as an incomplete sentence, and leaves the other person confused.  

This is a direct result of how a Dyslexic's  brain is hardwired. 
I think in pictures & my picture that represents a word isn't the same as the socially acceptable word. 

In addition to this, I never learned the sounds of letters. So I often mispronounce words or I have to stop and think about how to say a word within a conversation.  

The words I know are all memorized & are the result of auditory learning. I have to listen to someone say a word before I can get it down.  

For people who aren't around me a lot, this can be awkward.

I am so thankful for Google, my family, and my close friends.

2. Presentations 

People with dyslexia often have anxiety and other mental health issues such as depression and low self-esteem. Thankfully, I only struggle with anxiety. 

It has been so many years since I was in school, but I still get anxiety reading out loud. 
It gets so bad sometimes that I literally have to try not to run out of the room, because those memories of being forced to read in front of the class are still there. I think it is an association I will never grow out of.

In my quest to become a librarian, this has been really difficult for me. Thankfully, I work with really great people that are considerate and don't put me on the spot. It becomes really difficult in a professional setting though.

3. Directions 

It is common for people with dyslexia to
be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right & over/under.

Since dyslexic's brains are hardwired differently, it is common for us to get letters, sounds, and directions mixed up. I have trouble with all of the above. 

I  especially get my left and right mixed up all the time! You don't want to take directions from me. My family and friends just take the direction I am pointing as the direction I mean and not what a I say. Again, in a professional environment this is hard. Especially if a guest asks for directions. It doesn't look very professional to give someone the wrong directions

4. Overall Health 

People with dyslexia get sick. They are more
prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.

I have Celiac Disease.  It is also not uncommon for these symptoms to worsen with stress.

Have test? Forget about eating. You will die.

Okay, that was a bit dramatic. I do get really sick though.
Just imagine having a flu like stomachaches every time you get stressed out.
These are just some of the things that impact me on a daily basis.

So is this book realistic? 

I have seen a lot of reviews about this book  in regards to  how annoying it was that the main character went so long without being diagnosed. Many commented that that it was unrealistic. 

If it wasn't for my parents advocating for me, I wouldn't have learned to read. 

I even had an IEP in school. This means that my teachers knew what was wrong and they were supposed to work with me, but let's be honest they didn't always do that. 

When a teacher has a class of 32, they aren't going to pay too much attention to a quiet kid 
(even if they have an IEP).  Their focus is more realistically going to be on the overall classroom management

As a kid, I didn't want to be singled out. Who wants to be called out of the classroom to go to a special class? If you do, the kids target you for being "special."  As a result, I would often not take extra time on tests because it would make me a target for other kids. This was my own fault, but I think sometimes we forget to take this into consideration.

As passionate educators, we want to believe that everyone who needs help is helped.  In reality, without parent involvement many kids get left behind. This isn't the school system's fault. The school is a partnership with families to provide the best education possible.  

Since the character's parents couldn't be involved in Ally's education, they didn't know what was going on and they didn't know that she needed help. So I can see this realistically happening, because it does happen every day. 

Please remember though that it only takes one teacher or educator to change everything. 

For more information, please check out the links below: 


Dyslexia Statistics

Literacy Statistics

Understanding Dyslexia

- Pamela 

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