Once Upon a Bookshelf – Fish in a Tree – We’re all Geniuses.

Fish in a TreeFish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was immediately drawn to this book, thanks to the title. Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That is exactly how the characters in this book feel.

Ally has been tricking people her entire life. She moves a lot because of her dad’s job. He’s in the service and she has been at 7 different schools in almost as many years. Generally, she tries to lay low and not draw attention to herself. Her latest school though, has been nothing but trouble. She lands in the principal’s office almost daily and her secret is getting harder to hide.

Especially after she picks out a card for her pregnant teacher because it has flowers on it but doesn’t realize that it’s actually a sympathy card. Everybody sees her as a troublemaker and she constantly calls herself dumb. Ally is in 6th grade and can’t read. She says that the words like to float around and doesn’t understand how people can read like that.

With her teacher now on maternity leave, she has to start the whole charade over with the new guy. Mr. Daniel’s turns out to be a blessing in disguise. He sees Ally as a creative kid and notices that she’s special. Working together, Ally becomes more confident and slowly starts to read. It’s the ultimate story of believing in yourself!

What I loved about this book was the concept. I’m sure there are a lot of kids that go to school and go unnoticed. They may have significant needs that no one has bothered to help them with. All it takes is one teacher that pays attention. That’s what teachers are for right? All of my favorite people growing up were my teachers. I felt connections with them and that was a major reason I only went to school. Just by knowing that there is someone that cares can really make a kid open up (I see it all the time – I’m a teacher now, too).

I also love the mind movies that Ally has. She is incredibly creative and keeps a journal of impossible things. The things in her mind movies are sometimes crazy like teaching cats to play hockey. You can even see some of the impossible things at the end of the book!

Ally’s friends are the best. Her relationships with other kids have been strange because she moves so much but once she gets the opportunity to reach out and learn about the kids in her class (thanks to the awesomeness of Mr. Daniels), she becomes great friends with Keisha and Albert. We also learn about their eccentricities and they learn to love why their different and they work together to stay positive and help each other out.

This book gave me goose bumps. The story of redemption and being yourself really hit home with me. If you have a kid (or not) I recommend that they read this book. It could have the ability to change the way they think about themselves and the things that make them “different.”

My rating: 5/5

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