What would you do if the alphabet in every book you read swam in front of you? What if you are known as the dumb kid in your class who cannot do anything right? Would you quit school altogether or would you keep going in the hope that someday things will work out for you?
One such child is described in the engaging and uplifting book ‘Fish in a Tree’. She is Ally Nickerson, a 6th grader who has dyslexia (a learning disorder which makes reading difficult). Being an army brat, she has switched several schools over the years and has managed to hide her condition successfully from her teachers and classmates – most of whom consider her stupid and a freak. Her condition makes reading and writing tough for her, but she makes creative and funny ‘mind movies’ or mental videos of situations when she faces them as a coping mechanism. Though she is good at Math and Art, this fact gets overshadowed due to her inability to do well in the academic sphere.
Ally’s dyslexia is finally recognised by a caring and dedicated teacher, Mr. Daniels, who devises various methods to make reading easier for her. As the novel progresses, Ally develops from a sensitive girl who concocts ways to escape reading and writing to a positive child who understands her unique ailment and works towards doing better with the help of her friends (Albert and Keisha) and her teacher. She even gets chosen as the class president, the highlight of her school year! Her other classmates include Suki (a Japanese girl), Shay (the class bully) and Jessica (Shay’s lackey).
The book is written in an accessible style using simple language which children can relate to. Throughout the book, Ally comes across as a likeable character who tries to do her best while struggling with circumstances beyond her control. On the whole, the author urges us to walk in the other person’s shoes before being unkind or spiteful.
Is there a teacher who has been the guiding beacon in your life and has tried to go the extra mile to make you comfortable at school? Then you must add this book to your reading list!
This book is centered around Ally Nickerson, a 6th grader who has dyslexia (a learning disorder which makes reading difficult). She has managed to hide her condition from her teachers, her family, and her friends, but is finally recognised by a caring teacher named Mr. Daniels.
- A simple and easy read
- Reinforces the positive message of preserving against all the odds and asking for help when required
- Shows that not all children are created equal and those that struggle academically may be fighting their own demons
- Most characters are one-dimensional except for Ally
- The fact that Ally’s dyslexia remains undetected till grade six seems a little unbelievable
- The other children in the classroom – the bully, the nerd, etc. seem stereotypical in nature
- Ally’s older brother, Travis, also appears to suffer from dyslexia, but his condition too remains unnoticed. That seems a little far-fetched!
Power words :