Ally’s been able to fool a lot of smart people. She’s made it all the way to 5th grade without anyone (her mother, her brother, her teachers, her classmates) figuring out that she can’t read. But Ally has a new teacher, and Mr. Daniels not only sees that Ally doesn’t know how to read, but he just might know how to help her.
This is a slowly paced, character driven novel that some kids will love, and other kids will find mind-numbingly boring. I know this first hand, because I had 3 different groups of students reading this for book clubs these past couple of months, and two of them hated the book (ironically), and one group loved it. Readers who fell in love with Auggie Pullman and his friends in Wonder will also fall in love with Ally and the rest of Mr. Daniels’ class in Fish in a Tree. The book is chock full of character development and saccharine joy of learning/love of reading moments.
I would classify Fish in a Tree as an “If you liked…” book, rather than a “You have to read…” book. If you enjoy character driven, sappy, middle grade fiction, you will enjoy this book. I do think there are other books that get the same character development and the same ideas across in a far more effective manner, but the story is still a solid one. If you liked Wonder, if you liked Freak the Mighty, if you liked The One And Only Ivan, give Fish in a Tree a shot. Otherwise, maybe give it a pass.