A fascinating and enlightening story, Fish in a Tree follows a sixth grade girl who always struggled in school, but never could understand why until a persistent, caring teacher finally helps diagnose her with dyslexia. The author herself experienced a similar childhood to Ally, which gives so much depth of perspective to the character's struggle with an inability to read and write. Once diagnosed, Ally begins to discover through perseverance that a learning disability does not define who she is or her intelligence. I only knew the basic symptoms of dyslexia prior to reading Fish in a Tree; however, I now feel a whole new appreciation for those who struggle with this and similar learning disorders on a daily basis because of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s thoughtful and personal testimony incorporated into her novel. Fish in a Tree is among the 2019 Bluestem Award nominees for the State of Illinois, designed for students in grades 3-5.
I knew little about the Japanese internment camps of WWII before reading this Bluestem-nominated novel (for grades 3-5). But while based in a significant historical time period, the story itself revolves primarily around the relationship between the main character (Mitzi) and her beloved dog, Dash, as well as friends and classmates as they process the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Dash by Kirby Larson is a short listen or read for dog-lovers and historical fiction enthusiasts.
This was my first go at a graphic novel, so I was pleased to find that this book is a collection of short graphic anecdotes. It was easy to read a few pages here and there in between other activities. Adulthood is a Myth is incredibly relatable, especially if you're a 20-30 something female, but anyone in that age bracket can definitely connect with Sarah Andersen's humorous spin on life. If you do enjoy Adulthood is a Myth, don't miss the additional installments in the Sarah Scribbles series, Big Mushy Happy Lump, which came out in 2017, and Herding Cats, due out in March 2018.
If you love a big story climax, Crenshaw is probably not the book for you. In this 2018 Bluestem nominated junior novel, Katherine Applegate tells the story of an imaginary friend from a boy's perspective as his family deals with financial troubles. The story does not build up to any major plot point; however, it is thoughtful and reflective (especially since a large portion of the book is a flashback). In any event, this was an easy audiobook listen (just over three hours), narrated by old pro Kirby Heyborne, and it could stir some interesting discussion topics with you and your family.