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1-Page Summary of Fish In A Tree
Fish in a Tree is a 2015 novel about Ally, who has dyslexia. She’s smart and talented but can’t read due to her disability. Her family moves around because of her father’s military job, so she transfers schools often. Ally does everything she can to avoid writing and reading tasks; she uses humor, misbehavior, and feigned sickness to distract from her learning difficulty. But when the school year ends on a positive note for Ally after overcoming many challenges with help from an unexpected source—her brother Travis—she realizes that it was all worth it because now she loves to read!
Ally’s new teacher, Mr. Daniels, is a kind and attentive man who sees beyond her distractions. He realizes that Ally has dyslexia but also feels that she is smart and creative. Therefore, he adapts his teaching methods to help her learn better than before. With this newfound confidence in herself, Ally begins making friends with other students like Keisha and Albert (who are both outspoken).
Albert often comes to school with bruises. Ally, who is his friend, becomes concerned when she sees these bruises and asks Albert about them. He tells her that they are caused by kids who bully him because he refuses to fight back. A mean girl named Shay bullies Albert and his friends Keisha and Ally as well. However, unlike the other two kids, Ally decides not to let Shay’s bullying get under her skin; instead of fighting back or ignoring it like Albert does (which works for him), she decides to do what he did in order to stop being bothered by Shay’s bullying: ignore it.
Ally’s reading skills improve after she works with Mr. Daniels, who uses strategies that cater to her visual learning style. She is nominated for class president and wins the election, which makes Shay jealous and causes Ally to realize that people can be mean when they’re jealous. This realization doesn’t bother her until some bullies target Albert and Keisha, so Albert has to stand up for himself and his friends.
Ally continues working on extra projects, and the teacher honors her dedication by giving her a special award. The teacher challenges the class to see things in new ways, listing famous people who struggled with dyslexia (a reading disorder). The teacher’s assignments are cooperative and his treatment of each student is different from others. He inspires students to appreciate one another as unique individuals.
One day, Ally’s friend Travis comes to pick her up from school. She tells him about how Mr. Daniels has been helping her overcome her reading difficulties. Travis is impressed and decides to meet with Mr. Daniels himself because he knows that it’s never too late to learn something new or achieve your goals if you try hard enough
Chapter 1: “In Trouble Again”
In Fish in a Tree, Ally Nickerson is an intelligent and creative middle-school girl who has difficulty reading and writing. She describes one of her typical days at school when her teacher asks the class to write about themselves for their new substitute teacher who will take over while she’s on maternity leave.
Ally is a creative and imaginative girl, so she tries to avoid writing by distracting herself with various activities. She doodles in her sketchbook (to which she’s given an interesting name), makes up imaginary movies in her head, scribbles on the desk, and even jokes around with sarcastic comments. However, when Mrs. Hall threatens to send Ally to speak with Mrs. Silver (the principal) about not doing anything productive during class time, Ally decides it’s better to write than be punished for something else later that day. So she writes down the word ‘why’ over and over again at the top of her page until class ends.