Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Nancy Paulsen Books, February 2015.
Good for: Grades 3 to 7
Summary: Sixth-grader Ally Nickerson can't read. She can see the words on the page, but they dance around and don't make any sense to her. Ashamed, she acts disruptive in class in order to hide the real issue of her dyslexia. Even though she's actually good at things like math and art, the other kids call her stupid and slow. So when a new teacher arrives and wants to help Ally with her problem, she is reluctant to come around and finally realize that maybe she isn't as hopeless as she thinks.
Thoughts: Overall, this is a sweet, uplifting story about a girl who thinks that just because her mind works differently, she isn't as smart or as normal as the other kids in class. Along the way, she befriends Albert, a quiet and pragmatic boy with a less-than-ideal home life and Keisha, a confident girl with a talent for baking. Ally herself is coping with a military father who is away from home. Ally and her two friends are the most realistically portrayed characters by far. There are some nice moments with the other classmates, namely a hyper boy named Oliver and the "assistant bully" Jessica. However (and unfortunately) bully-in-charge Shay and the unconventional teacher, Mr. Daniels, fall flat. While the story starts strong, it begins to fall into cliched and sappy territory with one too many uplifting moments to make it ring completely true. Nevertheless, this is a heartwarming story overall and would be a great choice for a tween book club or classroom.
My Goodreads Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars