Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fish in a Tree by Linda Hunt

Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt is the story of one girl's struggle to overcome her learning disability.

Ally's got a bit of a reputation as a class clown and occasional troublemaker. She's good with numbers and art, but has trouble reading because of the way the letters seem to move on the page. She makes her difficulties into a joke, and she's fooled a lot of teachers so far. But when Mr. Daniels, a long-term sub, takes over for her regular teacher, he sees Ally's smart, creative side in a way that nobody else ever has. Over time, Mr. Daniels helps Ally overcome her difficulties while celebrating her unique skills and talents.

This book falls firmly into the category of "inspirational teacher story," as you can see from the summary above. There aren't a huge number of novels featuring dyslexic protagonists out there, so there's some value in that. I was displeased to find that this book perpetuates the "Einstein did poorly in school" urban legend that's been pretty well debunked; I thought the book would have been better served if the author had used a less controversial example of a famous person who struggled with academics. On the other hand, Ally's voice is smart and funny, and that made for an enjoyable read.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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