Fish in a Tree


Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Fish in a Tree: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

As kids leave for lunch, Mr. Daniels calls Ally to his desk. He compliments her on her opinions and answers and says she has wonderful gifts. Ally doesn't understand how he can possibly think this. Then, he asks a series of questions: if reading gives Ally headaches, and if she thinks one word and says another. Ally nervously answers yes to both. When he asks her if letters move, she says that of course they do. This makes Mr. Daniels's eyes widen.
All the questions that Mr. Daniels asks are screening questions for dyslexia, which indicates that Mr. Daniels is narrowing down the possibilities of what Ally might be struggling with. This continues to illustrate what a caring and insightful teacher he is.
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His final question is if Ally knows what chess is and if she knows how to play. Ally knows what it is but doesn't know how to play. Mr. Daniels says that Ally would like it and offers to teach her after school. Ally knows this is a trap of some sort, so she says no, even though she wants to learn. She turns around when Mr. Daniels says he'd excuse her from homework for learning to play and says there's no catch. Ally agrees and shakes Mr. Daniels's hand, happy that she's getting out of homework and that he clearly thought about Ally outside of school, when he didn't have to.
Ally's happiness that Mr. Daniels thought of her outside of normal school hours is another indicator that Ally desperately wants to be seen and heard by the adults around her, not to be a bother. Though Mr. Daniels doesn't outright explain his reasoning for teaching Ally chess, it's likely something that he knows she'll be good at and knows that it'll therefore help boost her confidence.
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