Fish in a Tree


Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Fish in a Tree can help.

Fish in a Tree: Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

The next day at school, there's a sub. Ally thinks of how she can get out of class to go to the nurse as the sub asks who Ally Nickerson is. Ally raises her hand, and the sub says that she can draw instead of write in response to the prompt. Shay snidely says that after Ally colors, she can have naptime. The sub doesn't stop Shay and hands out paper. Ally is mortified and can't figure out why Mr. Daniels betrayed her. She gets up and walks out, telling the angry sub she drew a picture of a ghost in a blizzard.
Just as with what happened at the Noah Webster museum, the sub's actions and unwillingness to stop Shay from being mean return the classroom to a dangerous and horrible place for Ally. This reminds the reader that while students can be empowered to stop bullying, the teachers also have a great deal of responsibility to create an environment unfriendly to bullying in the first place.
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
Ally goes right to Mrs. Silver's office, where she asks Mrs. Silver to call Mom. Ally doesn't even know why she's asking and takes the phone when Mrs. Silver holds it out to her. Ally tries not to cry as she thinks that she's tired of being a failure and feels hurt that Mr. Daniels betrayed her. All she can say is "Mom?" Mom asks for Mrs. Silver again. Ally goes to the bathroom to cry and then asks Keisha to help her write a note for Mr. Daniels, saying that she'll never read or play chess with him again.
Ally's sense of betrayal is so intense because, after months of learning to trust Mr. Daniels and now weeks of working with him one-on-one, Ally has started to believe that teachers can and will look out for her. This makes Mr. Daniels's supposed betrayal hurt even more.
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
That afternoon, Ally sits down at Petersen's and wonders what Mom will say about the phone call. Mom compliments Ally on her "ghost in a blizzard" line and listens as Ally says that Mr. Daniels was the first teacher she trusted. Mom encourages her to give Mr. Daniels a chance and that he probably didn't intend to hurt her. Ally hopes she's right.
The fact that Ally wants to believe Mom and forgive Mr. Daniels indicates that Ally finds trusting teachers to be way better than thinking of them as enemies. In other words, she hopes that her much improved life at school will continue.
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon