Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


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"Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.” —Kirkus Reviews

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.

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers 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. This paperback edition includes The Sketchbook of Impossible Things and discussion questions.

New York Times Bestseller! 

* “Unforgettable and uplifting.”—School Library Connectionstarred review

* "Offering hope to those who struggle academically and demonstrating that a disability does not equal stupidity, this is as unique as its heroine.”—Bookliststarred review

* “Mullaly Hunt again paints a nuanced portrayal of a sensitive, smart girl struggling with circumstances beyond her control." —School Library Journal, starred review 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142426425
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 999
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.79(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Lynda Mullaly Hunt ( 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: In Trouble Again

Excerpted from "Fish in a Tree"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Lynda Mullaly Hunt.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 In Trouble Again 1

Chapter 2 Yellow Card 6

Chapter 3 Never up to Me 11

Chapter 4 Bird in a Cage 16

Chapter 5 Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels 24

Chapter 6 Triple-Sided Coin 30

Chapter 7 No Grandpas Here 35

Chapter 8 Real Trouble 39

Chapter 9 Bag Full of Nothing 43

Chapter 10 Promises, Promises… 53

Chapter 11 Scrambled Egg 58

Chapter 12 What's Your Problem, Albert? 64

Chapter 13 Trouble with Flowers 70

Chapter 14 Boxed in and Boxed Out 75

Chapter 15 Ungreased Gears 82

Chapter 16 What I've Got 88

Chapter 17 Misfit Lunch 91

Chapter 18 Truths and Untruths 96

Chapter 19 Not-So-Sweet Secret 101

Chapter 20 Is This a Good Thing? 108

Chapter 21 Butterfly Wishes 114

Chapter 22 No Way to Treat a Queen 119

Chapter 23 Words That Breathe 122

Chapter 24 Imaginary Hero 126

Chapter 25 Celebration or Devastation? 133

Chapter 26 Stalling 137

Chapter 27 Half-Baked Afternoon 141

Chapter 28 Deal of a Lifetime 145

Chapter 29 Fish in a Tree 150

Chapter 30 Miserable King 160

Chapter 31 Lots of Ways Home 164

Chapter 32 Screen Time 168

Chapter 33 Possibilities 174

Chapter 34 Birth of a Star 178

Chapter 35 A Picture is Worth a Gazillion Words 185

Chapter 36 In the Game of Life… 190

Chapter 37 A Chicken, a Wolf, and a Problem 193

Chapter 38 Loser for President 198

Chapter 39 To-Shay 202

Chapter 40 Tears of Different Kinds 209

Chapter 41 Not-So-Secret Letter 211

Chapter 42 The Gifts of No Excuses, Scotch Tape, and Antibiotics 217

Chapter 43 Set the World on Fire 223

Chapter 44 Tales of a Sixth Grade Something 225

Chapter 45 My Brother's Question 228

Chapter 46 Flying Tigers and Baby Elephants 232

Chapter 47 Great Minds Don't Think Alike 236

Chapter 48 Oliver's idea of Lucky 244

Chapter 49 I See the Light 250

Chapter 50 A Hero's Job 253

Chapter 51 C-O-U-R-A-GEnius 260

Acknowledgments 269

Letter from the Author 273

Discussion Questions 275

The Sketchbook of Impossible Things 277

Customer Reviews

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Fish in a Tree 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. I am a special education teacher. I think all teachers should read this book. It is also good for kids struggling with reading. They see that they are not alone. This book emphasizes that each person is special and unique. We all learn in a different ways, but that is okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely fell in love with this book. I work in education and found this to be an incredible account of what it feels like to suffer with dyslexia. I highly recommend for anyone who works in education to read this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fish in a Tree By Lynda Mullaly Hunt Fish in a Tree is a book about a young girl named Ally, who, to the naked eye, is your garden variety trouble maker. But deep down, her real trouble is with herself. Ally thinks that she’s dumb because she can’t read. When she opens a book, the letters move like little bugs, and create a big jumble of nothing. Along with the ruthless taunting of Shay and her clone Jessica, Ally thinks it’s just not possible to learn. But that is until she meets a few unlikely friends, a big realization, and a few troubles along the way. Characters: The characters of Ally, Shay, Keisha, Albert, and Mr. Daniels were strongly written realistic characters. They had good and bed qualities. For example, Ally was great at art and loved to learn, but she was also self-doubting and shy. Keisha was bold and fearless, but sometimes that big attitude got her in trouble. The antagonist Shay, was also very realistic. She was an archetype bully, only looking out for herself, insecure, and judgmental. Mr. Daniels, Ally’s new teacher, was a kind and understanding, but not very trusting teacher, who helps Ally learn about dyslexia and helps her to read. Overall, the characters in this story really helped move the plot ahead, and were crucial to the storyline. Plot: This story had a strong, yet overly dramatic plot. There was rising action and tension as Ally was picked on by other classmates, tried to make friends, and got thrown back in forth by her passionate struggle with reading. Then, as the story begins to reach its climax, Mr. Daniels suspects the real reason for Ally’s distaste for reading and writing. Then the climax is reached when Ally discovers dyslexia, and her problem is gradually resolved as she learns to read. By the end she has friends, a love for reading, and a happy life. It was overly dramatic though, making it appear as though Ally’s problem was a matter of like or death. But I guess that makes it seem even more realistic. Conflict: The conflict in this story was the best part. It was firmly grounded and made sense. The troubles and problems that Ally was facing made the story come to life. When she was mocked by Shay and Jessica, Ally felt torn down, but when she had to write, she felt scared. The difference of emotions for different trials helped the story’s flow, so that inner thinking could display all that was going through her mind, not just one emotion for every trial. I think that this conflict helped to develop Ally’s character, and showed clearly that Shay would be a static character, which means that she stays the same the whole time. Review: Overall Fish in a Tree was a great book. It was heartwarming and encouraging, and gave others insight into what it might be like to live a life where words and letters move. I would recommend this book for 8-15-year old’s. Good for any gender. Enjoy! A great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dont like shay because shes so mean to ally and i jabent read this book on my nook but ive read it in school but i like shays friend i think her name is jessica but i like me (my name is shayna and my nick name is shay)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book because i feel like it can relate to some people today in the world. I liked this book so much that i decided to find some of her other books. This was a great book.
nahyee 20 days ago
Making the Impossible Possible "Fish in a Tree" was another book that I read because my daughter is reading it for school. The book is a quick and excellent read. It's easy to identify at the beginning that Ally Nickerson has dyslexia, even without reading the description of the book. For those reviewers who called it "predictable," it's important to keep in mind that the book is targeted at grades 5-8. The daughter of a father in the military, Ally changes schools a lot, so she has never been diagnosed and displays classic avoidance techniques when it comes to assignments that require reading or writing. She is disruptive and gets sent to the office a lot. When her regular sixth-grade teacher goes out on maternity leave, her substitute is the one who recognizes the challenges Ally is facing. He doesn't let her get away with her avoidance and works with her to overcome the challenges of not being able to learn the way the other students do. He makes her realize that she is not dumb, which is what she wholeheartedly believes, and makes her realize that she wants to do well. Throughout the book, we see Ally blossom in her ability and in her confidence -- going from thinking that it's impossible for her to read and write to seeing what is possible for her. We see her relationships with her classmates change, and we see the difference that a great teacher can make for a child. There are also plenty of examples of how children treat each other in school when they're away from their parents -- good, bad, and indifferent. Everyone can take a lesson from this story, and it should be on every parent's reading list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book and it is really fun to read and it is an exampel to trun you can'ts into can's
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it’s a great book great blue stem, totally read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a beautiful book of what you hope can happen in every classroom. A teacher who can see what a student needs and a student who, although certainly resistant at first, is willing to adapt and change because they see the teacher doing it, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing book with a great and inspirational story behind it. You must read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this a while ago but it was really good!!!
Snophia More than 1 year ago
Fish In a Tree will take you on an amazing adventure through Ally Nickerson's life. In the beginning of the story, Ally can not read until she meets a teacher that can help her! Fish In a Tree is a great story that could take place of any kid. This book is very exciting and couldn't make me stop reading it. I wish their was a second book to continue and see what happens next to all the characters, especially Ally! Ally can show kids like her how anything can be possible!
aking22 More than 1 year ago
A Fish In A Tree was a great book. I would recommend this book to a classmate or a friend. I would give it four stars out of five. The book was about a girl named Ali who struggled with dyslexia. She had a hard time reading and felt like the words moved on the paper when she tried to read them. The kids in her class were mean to her because they thought she was stupid. She often made mistakes that hurt other people’s feelings, because she was unable to read. For example she gave a pregnant teacher at her school a sympathy card because she thought the teacher would like the yellow flowers on the front of the card. She didn’t realize it was a sympathy card because she couldn’t read the words on the card. She eventually made two friends in class and was able to tell them about her reading problems. She also had an amazing teacher who realized that she had dyslexia and he took classes so he could help her become a better reader. He invited her to come after school to do activities that would help her read such as chess. He told her that he would be able to help her read. He also told her that she could do anything that she set her mind to do, and that she was smarter than some of the other students in her own special way. At the end of the book her teacher explains what dyslexia is to the other students, and gives them an activity to do that shows them what it is like to have dyslexia. The kids in her class realize how amazing it is that she is able to read and they start having more respect for her and start being nicer to her. Later in the story Ali realizes that her brother is also struggling with dyslexia. She brings him to her teacher so that he can help her brother like he helped her. I also struggled with reading in elementary school and could relate to how Ali felt in the book. I would recommend this book, especially to anyone that struggled with reading or still struggles with reading. It proves that a great teacher who cares can make all the difference to a struggling student.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It tells about the struggles of some speical-aid kids and makes them know they're not alone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fish in a twee is so amazing for any gender i recommend ages 9 to 13~possibly 15
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss ur hand 3 times, post this on three other books then look under ur pillow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for anyone -youngvor old- who is involved in education on any level.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
I'm always a fan of Hunt's writing, but FISH IN A TREE spoke to me as a special educator and a mom of children gifted with dyslexia. I read this aloud to my three boys--that's how we roll in a dyslexic house-- and the kids loved it. They laughed right along with the interesting cast of characters. Albert with his Gordon Kormanesque ways was a fan favorite. Also, as I read through the book, there was lots of commentary about how relatable the book was to their own experiences--lots of head nodding at certain descriptions. But there was also a lot of relief that they've had more great teachers and positive experiences in their lives than Ally had previous to Mr. Daniels came along. *I'm sending out a *fist pump* to all the great teachers out there who are doing it right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the worst books i have ever read. I had to read it for summer reading. I thought it would be good because my friend loved it. So boring at times. And it makes you want to cry because you feel bad for ally ( the main charcter) Would not tell y'all to buy it. If you really want to read it get it from the library.the one thing i liked about it was the message behind the story.