Fish in a Tree

Teacher Appreciation C E L E B R A T I O N #2: A Thank You Letter–Albeit Late

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Dear Mr. Christy,

This is Teacher Appreciation Day and so you are on my mind.

I wish I could stand next to your grey, steel desk just as I did as a sixth grader and tell you all about the things that have happened. I wish I could tell you that I got the most miraculous call five years ago from my editor, Nancy Paulsen, at Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin who expressed her excitement at my first book being published. I took the call in the parking lot of a grocery store and, upon hanging up, stood with my fists in the air like Rocky. The ride I have taken since with Carley Connors, the main character of that first book, One for the Murphys, has been a dream-I-never-knew-I-had come true.

I know if I actually could tell you about all that’s happened and how different things are for me these days, you wouldn’t cheer loudly. You wouldn’t exclaim and make a big deal. I think you’d take a breath and look me dead in the eye and say that you aren’t surprised. Just as you did when the eleven-year-old me pulled off something unexpected.

Remember how you gave me my first writing award for a poem? That poem now appears in my second book, Fish in a Tree. It was a terrible poem. I knew it at the time as Icover with frame know it now. It was not award worthy but you deemed it so as an excuse to celebrate me–the child. Not the poet. In Fish in a Tree, Ally Nickerson is offended by this but in real life, I took my seat and watched you go on with the day feeling grateful that you’d been so nice to me. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget what you did and I’ll never forget when I figured out why you did it.

I remember the kids in the class who wrote you notes and drew you pictures. How they gave them to you with fanfare. I never once did that. Even at the end of the school year, I never thanked you for all you had done. As an adult looking back, I wish I had said something but I don’t think I had the words then. I was just so…well, ironically perhaps I don’t have the words even now. But one thing was for sure. I didn’t want to leave your room. Most kids are thrilled to see summer come. I was not.

I think you knew that sometimes the kids who needed you the most were the ones who didn’t make a fuss. I assure you that I was quietly grateful and carried the things you did and said into middle school, high school, college, grad school, and right into the editorial offices at Penguin Publishing.

As an adult looking back, I wish I had written you a thank you note, though. I want you to know that I’ve finally written it. It’s 288 pages long and entitled FISH IN A TREE. It’s a love letter to you—to the teacher who first saw me. Who saved me. And all other teachers like you.

Thank you, Mr. Christy. The world—certainly my world—is far better because you were here.

6th grade me with frame   Love,

Lynda Mullaly

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GIVEAWAY #2:

The FANTASTICO winning TEACHER winner will receive:

  • A signed hardcover
  • An audiobook (CD set) because Mr. Christy was such a great listener (Carley in Murphys notices that “silent” and “listen” have the same letters)
  • Wooden nickels (It’s okay to take them…)
  • Two lanyards (Be someone’s hero & Great minds don’t think alike)
  • Be someone’s hero/GOT GRIT? bracelets
  • Fish in a Tree t-shirt (This is a med but I will do my best to accommodate desired shirt size)
  • A Skype visit (If our schedules don’t work together I’ll record a video just for you and your kids!)
  • Guaranteed priority mailing within 24 hours of receipt of your school mailing address 🙂
  • Also – here is access to Teacher’s Guide for Fish in a Tree  http://www.penguin.com/static/images/yr/pdf/FishInATree_lessonplans_Final_LR.pdf

teacher giveaway

Please enter by leaving a comment below with your contact info (twitter handle or e-mail) and/or tweet/retweet with the hashtag #LMHListen . This will help me find your entry.  🙂

Winner will be chosen on Monday, May 11th. Please be able to provide a school mailing address, your grade level, and how many students you have.

THANK YOU!!!

FYI, here is yesterday’s giveaway:  https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/happy-teacher-appreciation-c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n-day-1/


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Categories: Fish in a Tree, Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), Teachers/Teaching, teaching | 121 Comments

Happy Birthday, Ally Nickerson. Fish in a Tree Swims into the World.

Well. Today is the day. The launch day of FISH IN A TREE. I can hardly believe it.

On Sunday I had a party. A big party which was the official launch. Many friends and family came from far and wide and lots of hours went into its planning. But there was another launch that took place in Maine. At a small school off the beaten path. The whole thing caught me off guard.

I showed up at the school to do a school visit with fourth and fifth graders. I had been looking forward to it as I love fourth and fifth graders! And the teacher there is pretty awesome too. After meeting a bunch of AWESOME kids I was greeted with THIS:

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YUM!!!

The kids were excited that an author had come to visit. I spoke about FISH IN A TREE, where it came from and took questions. It was the first time I had spoken in-person to kids about this book. And they asked great questions!

One thing I’d mentioned to them is that there are several changes in the hardcover compared to the advanced reader copy (ARC). Reading the ARC felt like a real book, so I caught some things in it that I hadn’t caught earlier. I added passages here and there. Changed a few things. (One important change is to Albert’s shirt.) The young man in the front row boldly asked–which I loved–what the changes were. And I stood there listing them as they dropped into my head and they reacted to every change. It was cool. THEY are cool.

Okay. So, I had an awesome talk with them. Time flew. Later, I went into the hallway and saw many things I hadn’t seen earlier because they were around corners and such. I mean, really. The hallway was an explosion of FISH IN A TREE stuff. Visually AMAZING. But you know what else? These kids are SMART!

Life-sized paper figures of FIAT characters.

Life-sized paper figures of FIAT characters.

Look at Albert! He has "FLINT" on his shirt. Keisha has a cupcake. Ally has a rainbow. Attention to detail. LOVE IT!

Look at Albert! He has “FLINT” on his shirt. Keisha has a cupcake. Ally has a rainbow. Attention to detail. LOVE IT!

And the thing that is SO COOL about this project is that each character has a written description next to each one. But…if you lift the paper shirt, you see another written description of what he/she is really like on the inside. Because there is a theme in this book of pretending to be one thing when you’re really someone different and learning to own who you really are.

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Here are the other characters made by these AMAZING fourth graders!

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IMG_0608 IMG_0610 IMG_0611

And Here is Mr. Daniels.

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And I LOVE their description of what Mr. Daniels is like on the INSIDE:

melissa's room

So…all of this would have been amazing on its own…but…

I LOVED the Writer's Wisdom wall! And I even got to add something :-)

I LOVED the Writer’s Wisdom wall! And I even got to add something 🙂

melissa's bookshelf

LOOK! at the amazing books here! MANY that I love, too!

And there was an INTERNATIONAL DOT DAY board (HUGE FAN of this concept created by Peter Reynolds!) where each child created a dot of their own–to express what makes them each unique.

FullSizeRender

I love Melissa's dot :-)

I love Melissa’s dot 🙂

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills.

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills.

A board of writing assignments where the kids had to choose a character from a book other than FISH IN A TREE and compare Ally to its main character. Amazing thinking skills. And this is made out of cloth! cloth! Wow.  Below, is just one example but THESE WERE ALL GREAT!

writing assignment

melissa and I

This is Melissa – the teacher who orchestrated all of this! She is amazing, isn’t she? I mean seriously.

But, teachers–no author expects all of this. Not nearly. Most of us are happy if the kids have read our book(s). AND as a teacher, I would NEVER have pulled all of this off. Melissa must have elves. Or a magic wand. Or an extensive behind-the-scenes crew working day and night.

As I left the school, I looked back at this sign on the front door. And thought that is was INDEED a welcome. A big welcome.

welcome sign

I absolutely loved all of the things these kids and Melissa did for my visit to their school. But I can honestly say, I liked their hearts the most. This is a very special community. I find myself missing them as I type this.

As I walked to my car that day, I thought that this would end up feeling like the *official* launch of the book. And after my big party on Sunday which couldn’t have been any better…I still think that this visit was the day Ally Nickerson felt like she’d finally stepped into the world.

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Here is a podcast I did with Matthew Winner about the backstory for FISH IN A TREE:

http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/2015/02/lynda-mullaly-hunt-ep-121.html

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POST to giveaway of signed book, t-shirt, and swag for kids 🙂

https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/321-launch/

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Here is the Book Trailer for FISH IN A TREE:

Categories: Ally Nickerson, Fish in a Tree, Great minds don't think a like, writing | 15 Comments

3,2,1…Launch Party!

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THANK YOU, ALL–my fantastic FANTASTICOS!

Yesterday, was my launch party for my book, FISH IN A TREE (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin–coming February 5th). Even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, we had a good turnout–and it was fun! I saw people I haven’t seen for years. A flurry of hugs at the doorway.

There were others on my mind though–such as Nerdy friends from across the country who I wish had been able to be there. Not just to buy a book but to celebrate a new book entering the world–and its future readers as well. That’s what we do as nerds–celebrate books and their readers! So, in honor of these people (and because I hate to see any party end) I’m going to offer a giveaway for a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, an official FIAT Launch Party shirt, and some book swag.

But, first….some pictures. 🙂  (HUGE thanks to Greg Hunt and Liz Goulet Dubois for most of these pictures )

Getting ready :-)

Getting ready 🙂

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Some of our FANTASTICO volunteers!

Some of our FANTASTICO volunteers!

Raffle Table!

Raffle Table!

Book poster and a shot of a young man who would prove to be very good at fishing.

Book poster and a shot of a young man who would prove to be very good at fishing.

Nerdy friend, Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, Susan Dee, and Gigi McAllister

Nerdy friend, Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, Susan Dee, and Gigi McAllister

I love to meet young readers! ((photo: Karin LeFranc)

I love to meet young readers! ((photo: Karin LeFranc)

One of the stations where readers could win raffle tickets - Add a Page to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things. GREAT Additions!

One of the stations where readers could win raffle tickets – Add a Page to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things. GREAT Additions!

One for my favorite volunteers :-)

One for my favorite volunteers 🙂

Girls playing and enjoying chess!

Girls playing and enjoying chess!

West Hartford Librarian, Kari Karp, plays GO FISH!

West Hartford Librarian, Kari Karp, plays GO FISH!

:-)

🙂

Caption Contest booth with an enthusiastic facilitator :-)

Caption Contest booth with an enthusiastic facilitator 🙂

Cupcake making!

Cupcake making!

Artistic folk :-)

Artistic folk 🙂

A new page is added to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things!

A new page is added to The Sketchbook of Impossible Things!

A raffle ticket and the remnants of a cupcake.

A raffle ticket and the remnants of a cupcake.

Happy :-)

Happy 🙂

Fish in a Tree T-shirts

Fish in a Tree T-shirts

Albert Jeopardy. Apparently, these two fine young fellows made up some pretty impressive questions for game-goers.

Albert Jeopardy. Apparently, these two fine young fellows made up some pretty impressive questions for game-goers.

Albert Jeopardy board :-)

Albert Jeopardy board 🙂

Cupcakes! With a rainbow of frosting choices. :-)

Cupcakes! With a rainbow of frosting choices. 🙂 And a dedicated cupcake helper!

Gigi McAllister came all the way from Maine! (along with 3 others) Thank you!

Gigi McAllister came all the way from Maine! (along with 3 others) Thank you!

What are the objects in the mystery boxes???

What are the objects in the mystery boxes???

Reader :-) (Photo: Rebecca Smalian)

Reader 🙂 (Photo: Rebecca Smalian)

Fish for the tree!

Fish for the tree!

People :-)

People 🙂

So happy to see these friends! Jeanne, Mary, Liz and Laurie :-)

So happy to see these friends! Jeanne, Mary, Liz and Laurie 🙂

Kyle fishing for words

Fishing for letters to make words!

Creating fish for the tree :-)

Creating fish for the tree 🙂

Fishing :-)

Author, Leslie Bulion, fishes for words. 🙂

Lynda speaks to readers about where Fish in a Tree came from.

Lynda speaks to readers about where Fish in a Tree came from.

West Hartford librarian, Janet Murphy, is the master of making fish for the tree!

West Hartford librarian, Janet Murphy, is the master of making fish for the tree!

Artist at work!

Artist at work!

Making friendship bracelets next to The Caption Contest booth.

Making friendship bracelets next to The Caption Contest booth.

Tattooed hands!

Tattooed hands!

More people :-)

More people 🙂

Susan Dee wins a bucket o' swag, a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, and a Skype visit :-)

Susan Dee wins a bucket o’ swag, a signed copy of FISH IN A TREE, and a Skype visit 🙂

BIg winner of Ally Nickerson's art supplies.

Big winner of Ally Nickerson’s art supplies.

Three *very* helpful members of the Teen Advisory Board, and West Hartford librarians, Kari Karp and Janet Murphy.

Three *very* helpful members of the Teen Advisory Board, and West Hartford librarians, Kari Karp and Janet Murphy.

Fish for the tree!

Fish for the tree!

Choosing the winners...

Choosing the winners…

Teacher, Melanie Swider, winner of the author visit. :-) Can't wait to visit her school!

Teacher, Melanie Swider, winner of the author visit. 🙂 Can’t wait to visit her school!

Laurie Murphy, another raffle winner ;-)

Laurie Murphy, another raffle winner 😉

With me in spirit - my fantastico agent, Erin Murphy :-)

With me in spirit – my fantastico agent, Erin Murphy 🙂

Also with me in spirit! My Penguin peeps: Eileen Kreit, Nancy Paulsen, Venessa Carson, and Alexis Watts. (I wish Sara LaFleur were in this picture, too!)  My editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen, is phenomenal. She is the steel penny of editors--one of a kind! I am most grateful for the day she called and every day we've worked together since.

Also with me in spirit! My Penguin peeps: Venessa Carson, Nancy Paulsen, moi, Eileen Kreit, and Alexis Watts. (I wish Sara LaFleur were in this picture, too!)
My editor and publisher, Nancy Paulsen, is phenomenal. She is the steel penny of editors–one of a kind! I am most grateful for the day she called and every day we’ve worked together since.

Thank you all for an extraordinary day! I am so, so lucky...

Thank you all for an extraordinary day! I am so, so lucky…

My heartfelt thanks to all who came to celebrate with me on Sunday. It was such a great day – I just kept thinking how very lucky I am. I am blessed. Truly blessed. And I never take any of it for granted.

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To my online friends ~ Thank you for “visiting” my launch party 🙂

OKAY! NOW for the giveaway information 🙂

fiat giveaway

I am offering a giveaway for:

1) A signed copy of FISH IN A TREE

2) A free, full-length Skype visit.

3) A FISH IN A TREE T-shirt from the launch party

4) Some FIAT swag for a classroom.

TO ENTER:

1) Please comment on this blog post 🙂

2) Please tweet and/or retweet with hashtag #FIATbook. You must include hashtag to be entered. 🙂

Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday, February 7th. TWO winners will be announced/notified on Sunday.

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Thank you ALL, my fantasticos!!! 

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Categories: author, books, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Great minds don't think a like, Love of teachers, writing | 90 Comments

Remembering the Query Daze – a Writer Looks Back with Gratitude

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Lately, I’ve been thinking back to the “query daze.” How hard it was to put my work in front of strangers who were experts and ask them what they thought. At that time, I received some pretty tough feedback. The first query/writing sample I’d ever sent out (for a book entitled Kicking the Beehive) came back with a written response—I was thrilled, believing that a hand-written comment on a rejection means you’re on the cusp of success! The note read, “I love your title. However, you never need send me anything again.”

Ouch, right?

Thing is…I knew the book wasn’t ready. That I wasn’t ready. I sent it as a Hail Mary. A hope and a wish. My head thought I had a chance. My heart knew better.

So, I began another book. The voice popped. I believed in it. Yet, there was this other voice, too. Not demanding to be written but relentlessly tugging at me. So, I began to write that one instead. It was entitled, One for the Murphys, and was later published with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin in 2012. The book I’d left in order to write Murphys is now under contract and due out in Fall, 2016.

Dreams come true, folks! Believe me; they do.

So, I’ve been thinking about my fellow writers in the pre-agent days. I wrote a love letter to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) after receiving an ARC of One for the Murphys because SCBWI was so crucial in getting published.

I’ve been replaying those times with friends and critique group members I met through SCBWI who both encouraged me and kicked me in the butt–depending on what was called for that day. We were a tribe. We still are. And I am grateful to benefit from their caring, honesty, and wisdom.

And, oddly enough, I am grateful for that time of querying and waiting for the phone to ring. Knowing that 212 was the area code for New York city where many agents and publishers would call from. And hoping. Hoping that when the phone rang, it would be a 212 call. These were the days of high hopes laced with days of wondering if I should just work on something easier. Like pulling a tire through a keyhole.

However, that time taught me about grit and determination and the business of publishing. I learned what I wanted and how very much I wanted it. It was a time of feeling both alone and part of something bigger all at the same time.

My second novel, FISH IN A TREE, (avail for pre-order now ~ release is Feb 5, 2015) has many themes that remind me of my early author journey:                                                                Copy (3) of FISH IN A TREE COVER high res

  • Grit and resilience
  • Having the courage to accept help
  • Don’t play the comparison game. Recognize both your strengths and short-comings not in terms of being better or worse but in being human with your one-of-a-kind voice.
  • Let your strengths shine in the first try (draft). Work on your short-comings later (in revision).
  • Being vulnerable to your audience can be hard–but it often deepens connections with others (Here is an old post on the vulnerability of being a writer )
  • Sometimes the things that make you feel like there’s something wrong with you are actually your strengths (i.e. – never being able to follow an outline like other writers)
  • Having others on the journey with you makes for a richer ride and a happier person.
  • Yup–we’re all in this together. And we have to support each other. That’s what it’s all about. Not just writing but the whole being human thing.

So, since I am making these connections between my early writing career and FISH IN A TREE…

and bubbling over with all of this gratitude for my tribe…

and looking for a way to celebrate the release of this book…

AND knowing how much I was/am helped by others…

I’d like to try to help other writers who are longing to break into children’s publishing. So…

I am offering a giveaway where two children’s writers will be randomly chosen. The winners will be contacted with instructions re: sending me the first ten pages of their book (12 pt, double-spaced) and I will give a balanced critique and speak with the writer on the phone for 30-minutes about his/her writing sample.

To enter, you must:

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1) Be an adult who has been actively writing fiction for children

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2) NOT be published in any genre (as I am trying to help those who have not broken in YET)

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To earn entries, you may:

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~~Make a comment below. Please enter your email address OR twitter name so I can contact you if you win

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~~Share this giveaway link to FB (which you must tell me about in the comments)

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~~Tweeting or Retweeting with the hashtag,  #WritingAllies  (This will help me find your tweets in order to enter you in the drawing. You may also tag me @Lynmullalyhunt )

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The winners will be chosen at 11:59 PM on December 10th. Winners will be notified by the following morning and also announced here. Due to travel plans, I must receive your ten pages via e-mail within 2 days of winning and I will schedule the phone conversation within a few days after that.

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**Thank you and good luck. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote about being a writer:

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Categories: author, courage, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Grit, SCBWI, writing | 65 Comments

Collection of Teacher-Related & Bullying Posts – NCTE14

Hello!

At NCTE, I’d referred to these two teacher-related posts and a bullying post in a few conversations w/ teachers. I had promised to post them here so they are easy to find for you–so here they are. Whether I had the pleasure of speaking with you or not, thank you for stopping by here. I appreciate it. 🙂

~Lynda

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**COVER REVEAL FOR FISH IN A TREE  (About the first teacher that changed me. Saved me, really… My novel, FISH IN A TREE turned out to be a love letter to him and all teachers like him)

http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/cover-reveal-fish-in-a-tree-by-lynda-mullaly-hunt/

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THE YEAR I MET PETER: (About the first book that changed me)

http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/the-year-i-met-peter/

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IRON WHISPER (being bullied as a kid)

https://lyndamullalyhunt.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/of-everything-wonderful/

THANK YOU!!!

Categories: Ally Nickerson, books, Fish in a Tree, Great minds don't think a like, journey, Love of teachers, NCTE, Teachers/Teaching, writing | Leave a comment

FISH IN A TREE Giveaway

It’s Halloween and ghouls just want to have fun. SO….

….I am posting a FISH IN A TREE giveaway including a signed ARC. In case you’d like to know something about the book, here is some info including a synopsis and Chapter One.

http://lyndamullalyhunt.com/book_alphabet.php

The giveaway includes:

mega giveaway

  1. A signed ARC of FISH IN A TREE  (release date is Feb 5, 2015)
  2. A Fish in a Tree t-shirt (sizes are limited)
  3. A “Great minds don’t think alike/ Got grit?” lanyard
  4. A class set of 30 “Great minds don’t think alike/ Got grit?” bracelets.
  5. A class set of 30 “silver dollar day/wooden nickel day” wooden nickels for your students
  6. A class set of 30 FISH IN A TREE tattoos
  7. A fancy FISH IN A TREE pen – because who doesn’t love a good pen?
  8. Three signed copies of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS for your classroom library. Or I will happily personalize them if you wish.
  9. A set of 30 Murphys bookmarks for your students
  10. My undying gratitude for being the kind of teacher who would enter a giveaway for your class.

You earn entries by:

  • Tweeting this post with the hashtag #FIATbook (This way I can find your entries).
  • Retweeting or quoting tweets (with #FIATbook).
  • Sharing this to FB, but please let me know in the comments below.
  • Lastly, you can enter by commenting about anything you’d like below—feel free to just say hello, tell a story of a student (yourself or another) who has persevered despite obstacles, or a story of a wonderful, life-changing teacher—because there are SO many unsung heroes out there. I know it. In fact, this book is one big thank you note to you teachers out there who are saving kids every day.

A winner will be randomly chosen Thursday, November 6th at 11:59PM. *The winner MUST have a school mailing address.*

And, thank you for your interest in FISH IN A TREE. If you ever get around to reading it, I do hope you enjoy meeting Ally, Keisha, Albert, Suki, Mr. Daniels and the others…

Categories: Ally Nickerson, Dyslexia, Fish in a Tree, Giveaway, Great minds don't think a like, Grit, writing | 59 Comments

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