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Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt Fish In A Tree
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Biographical note:

Lynda Mullaly Hunt (www.lyndamullalyhunt.com) has received many honors for her debut novel, One for the Murphys, which is on over twenty state award lists, including Bank Street’s 2013 Best Books of the Year. She’s a former teacher, and holds writers retreats for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, impetuous beagle, and beagle-loathing cat.

Excerpt from book:

Chapter 1
In Trouble Again

It’s always there. Like the ground underneath my feet.
     “Well, Ally? Are you going to write or aren’t you?” Mrs. Hall asks.
     If my teacher were mean it would be easier.
    “C’mon,” she says. “I know you can do it.”
    “What if I told you that I was going to climb a tree using only my teeth? Would you say I could do it then?”
    Oliver laughs, throwing himself on his desk like it’s a fumbled football.
    Shay groans. “Ally, why can’t you just act normal for once?”
    Near her, Albert, a bulky kid who’s worn the same thing every day—a dark T-shirt that reads Flint—sits up straight. Like he’s waiting for a firecracker to go off.
    Mrs. Hall sighs. “C’mon, now. I’m only asking for one page describing yourself.”
    I can’t think of anything worse than having to describe myself. I’d rather write about something more positive. Like throwing up at your own birthday party.
    “It’s important,” she says. “It’s so your new teacher can get to know you.”
    I know that, and it’s exactly why I don’t want to do it. Teachers are like the machines that take quarters for bouncy balls. You know what you’re going to get. Yet, you don’t know, too.
    “And,” she says. “All that doodling of yours, Ally. If you weren’t drawing all the time, your work might be done. Please put it away.”
    Embarrassed, I slide my drawings underneath my blank writing assignment. I’ve been drawing pictures of myself being shot out of a cannon. It would be easier than school. Less painful.
    “C’mon,” she says, moving my lined paper toward me. “Just do your best.”
    Seven schools in seven years and they’re all the same. Whenever I do my best, they tell me I don’t try hard enough. Too messy. Careless spelling. Annoyed that the same word is spelled different ways on the same page. And the headaches. I always get headaches from looking at the brightness of dark letters on white pages for too long.
    Mrs. Hall clears her throat.
    The rest of the class is getting tired of me again. Chairs slide. Loud sighs. Maybe they think I can’t hear their words: Freak. Dumb. Loser.
    I wish she’d just go hang by Albert, the walking Google page who’d get a better grade than me if he just blew his nose into the paper.
    The back of my neck heats up.
    I don’t get it. She always let me slide. It must be because these are for the new teacher and she can’t have one missing.
    I stare at her big stomach. “So, did you decide what you’re going to name the baby?” I ask. Last week we got her talking about baby names for a full half hour of social studies.
    “C’mon, Ally. No more stalling.”

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.
 
“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
 
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.


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