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.

Read Chapter One here!

Teachers – Share (and find!) Fish in a Tree ideas that you have enjoyed using with your kids.

Printable Fish in a Tree Teacher’s Guide!

Awards and Honors:

  • Schneider Family Book Award
  • SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner
  • ALSC Notable Book of 2016
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Global Read Aloud choice, 2015
  • SLJ Best Book, 2015
  • (Amazon) Kids Audiobook of Year Winner
  • Will be published in 15 different languages thus far
  • ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings Nominee
  • ALSC Notable Children’s Book Nominee
  • Indie Best Book Choice
  • Amazon Best Book of the month
  • Amazon Best Book of the Year (9-12 yo), 2015
  • Amazon bestseller re: books about disabilities
  • Barnes and Noble ~ Best books about bullying
  • ALSC Summer Reading List, 2016
  • SCBWI Summer Reading List, 2016
  • *State Lists:
  • Great Stone Face Award Book (New Hampshire)
  • Colorado State Book Award nominee
  • Golden Sower Award (Nebraska) nominee
  • South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee, 2016-2017
  • Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (Illinois) nominee, 2016-2017
  • Iowa Children’s Choice Award nominee, 2016-2017
  • Georgia Children’s Book Award nominee, 2016-2017
  • North Carolina Battle of the Books, 2016-2017
  • Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Maryland) nominee, 2016-2017
  • Maine Student Book Award Nominee, 2016-2017
  • Buckeye State Award List (Ohio), 2016-2017
  • William Allen White Award List (Kansas), 2017-2018



Visit Ally’s Sketchbook of Impossible Things

Fish in a Tree

Read (or add your own!) SUCCESS STORIES of people who struggled in school and later set the world on fire! (as Mr. Daniels would say ;-)

Buy merchandise from a non-profit online store

Help yourself to some Fish in a Tree badges



HELLO! Below is the code that Mr. Daniels writes on the board for the students to solve. Unfortunately, I will not give you an answer for it. However, I will tell you a couple of things:

  1. Yes, it can be solved.
  2. Each letter stands for another letter in the alphabet and follows a pattern. So, for example, if I told you that every letter in this word < ALD > was really the letter that is three letters after it in the alphabet,  <ALD > would really be < DOG >. This code below follows a pattern similar to this.
  3. Writing out the entire alphabet for yourself and experimenting will make this easier to solve.
  4. If you find this hard, don’t quit! It’s supposed to be hard and it feels AWESOME to solve something difficult.
CODE fish in a tree


The videos below were done in conjunction with Global Read Aloud. Each video covers 8 chapters of the book.

Video 1:  Chapter 1 – 8

Video 2: Chapter 9 – 17

Video 3: Chapter 18 – 24

Video 4: Chapter 25 – 33

Video 5: Chapter 34 – 42

Video 6: Chapter 43 – end

I begin each taping with a reading of the last chapter in the block and then answer questions form readers for that chapter block ONLY. The last video has a bit more of an overview.