Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt was a book that my friend Janice read and then recommended to me. I own a copy, which was on my TBR stack, but without her prompting I wouldn't have picked it up for a long time. Maybe years, the way things seem to go.
And this book is too good to be kept around for years before reading it. In fact, it is a book that you should read as soon as you have a chance.
Ally is smart - quite smart- yet school is a place that she feels lonely and unsuccessful. Her family moves often since her father is in the military, and after having moved from school to school, she has managed to fool teachers into thinking that her behavior is the result of choices on her part, not because she is covering up for a learning disability.
Mr. Daniels, the substitute teacher takes over for Ally's teacher who has a baby, and as usual, Ally tries to fool him, too. It is a skill she has down pat.
And yet, Mr. Daniels is the one teacher that Ally wants to try her hardest for. With her effort and Mr. Daniels observations and kindness, school is about to change for Ally.
Hunt's well developed subplots include her older brother, Travis' learning problems, and Ally's need to make friends at school, something she struggles with because of the learning disability she is trying to cover up and because she moves often.
This is a story that I can imagine teachers reading aloud to students - a story that kids can enjoy on their own -but one that has so much depth to it, that a read aloud would be a perfect place to discuss people's differences, strengths, and need to feel as though they belong.