I debated whether to post this review here or on my general blog because the book isn’t actually published yet. I received a copy from the publisher to read and pass on to other readers (the list is growing). Since this blog cross-posts to Ars Longa, Vita Brevis, I decided to go for it here.
ARC provided by publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin
From the back cover:
“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 troublemaker. 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.
I love Ally! By the end of the first page, I was in love with her narrative voice. As I was pulled deeper into the story I fell more in love with this spunky protagonist. The teacher in me ached for her and her struggles with reading and writing…by page 13 I was tearing up and wanted to hug her and tell her she was not stupid! It didn’t take long for the little girl in me who struggled with math (and still does) to completely relate to Ally.
Lynda Mullaly Hunt does such a beautiful job capturing the struggle of having learning differences and believing the wrong voices. All her characters have a wonderful balance to them. I can see kids of a span of ages reading the book and relating comfortably to the characters. I believe this should be read by all educators. It will touch you and challenge you to be more mindful of what your students are dealing with. Kids are going to enjoy this too. They’ll see that it’s okay when your brain works different from others. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and for others. That most mean kids have another side to them, but it doesn’t excuse their actions. That you have a choice about how you respond and how you treat others, but sometimes you make the wrong choice.
This book goes next to books like Cynthia Lord’s Rules as a book that will be impacting lives for years to come. A beautiful example of why we read…to know we are not alone.
Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt for releasing Ally into the world and telling her story. Thank you also, Lynda, and Nancy Paulsen Books for giving me the chance to meet Ally early!