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Books on the Blog: Fish in a Tree

Every first Monday, join us on the PAWLP Blog for a digital “book talk.” Today, we have PAWLP Fellow Sarah Burkholder with us to review Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree.


Review by Sarah Burkholder

“Everyone is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that it’s stupid.”

Ally Nickerson has lived by one rule throughout her school years: Lie low – when called upon, always respond, “I don’t know.” Now in sixth grade, Ally’s inability to read perpetuates her perception of herself as “slow” and “dumb.” Ally has always had trouble learning and is consistently the target of peer criticism. Acting disruptive is the only way she has been able to cope with these challenges. However, her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, realizes Ally’s potential and encourages her to embrace her learning differences. With the help of Mr. Daniels and two close friends, Ally recognizes that everyone has their own special talents and abilities, and with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. In doing so, Ally’s peers begin to appreciate her creativity, imagination, and resiliency. The impact that Mr. Daniels has on Ally’s life is heart-warming and inspiring to read.

Fish in a Tree is written for readers in the upper-elementary grades. Hunt creates relatable characters, and through these characters, promotes a growth mindset, resiliency, and grit. Readers will laugh and cry with Ally as she faces her learning differences, overcomes her fears, and, against all odds, begins to believe in herself. Fish in a Tree is a captivating and witty story that will resonate with teachers and students everywhere.

Sarah BurkholderSarah Burkholder currently works in the Central Bucks School District teaching fifth grade at Buckingham Elementary School. She recently graduated from Cabrini as a Reading Specialist and is a newly inducted fellow of the Summer PAWLP Institute. Sarah aspires to be the teacher students remember for igniting their passion for reading and writing.


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a lovely review! Thank you so much – I appreciate your kind words!


    December 11, 2015
  2. janiceewing #

    I had heard good things about this book and kind of put it on the back burner, but now I’ll definitely read it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015
  3. Rita Sorrentino #

    Thank you for sharing this book. From your review, I know I will definitely be reading this and sharing it with other teachers, too. Ally sounds like a character that resonates with students, especially in middle school; and teachers will value Mr. Daniels as a reminder to seek out and support students in their daily struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015

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