Fish in a Tree


Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Themes and Colors
Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning Theme Icon
Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust Theme Icon
Identity and Self-Esteem Theme Icon
Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Fish in a Tree, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Dyslexia, Intelligence, and Learning

Fish in a Tree tells the story of Ally, a sixth grade student with unidentified dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that means that Ally has a hard time reading and writing—she gets headaches, words seem to move on the page, and it takes her hours to write a paragraph. Ally believes that she's unintelligent and will never learn to read until her long-term substitute teacher, Mr. Daniels, suggests that she undergo testing…

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Teaching, Mentoring, and Trust

Ally's academic failures have a lot to do with the fact that because her dad is in the military, her family has moved about once per year since she started school. Because of this, Ally has never had the opportunity to form connections with her teachers or school administrators who, given the time and the wherewithal, could've identified her dyslexia and helped her learn to read much earlier than sixth grade; instead, she's come to…

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Identity and Self-Esteem

In many ways, Fish in a Tree is a classic coming of age novel: over the year that Ally spends in Mr. Daniels's classroom, she transforms from a withdrawn, anxious, and poor student to one that is confident, feels connected to her classmates, and can think hopefully about her future. Ally is able to do this primarily because, for the first time in her school career, she has a teacher who tells her that she's…

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Bullying, Friendship, and Social Status

What Ally wants most in the world (alongside learning to read) is to have friends and to be liked by her classmates. Due to her dyslexia and the accompanying impulse control problems, Ally finds it difficult to follow social norms and is thought of as being stupid—which together turn her into a prime target for bullies like Shay. Over the course of Ally's year in Mr. Daniels's class, Ally's changing relationship with herself and…

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