What It Is About: Ally is a sixth grade girl who struggles in school. She is a bright, smart, and creative girl, but there is one major problem that is getting in her way. She can't read and has always found ways to hide this issue from her teachers and the other students. She just lets herself get in trouble. All of this is going to change when her teacher goes out on maternity leave. Mr. Daniels is the new teacher and different from all of the other teachers Ally has had. He realizes how bright she is and that something must be getting in the way of her learning. He is bound and determined to help her find out what is going on. Ally must also deal with Shay who is the girl in the class that makes life miserable for everyone else. With the help of her two new friends, Albert and Keisha, the three of them learn what is means to truly be a friend, how to stick up for themselves, and how to set the world on fire. Of course Mr. Daniels has a hand in all of this.
What I Thought Of It: The novel completely lives up to the pre-release hype. I adored the story and fell in love with both Ally and Mr. Daniels. To be honest, he has become another "mentor" teacher for myself. He is one of the best characters I've read about in a long time. Ally is delightful and represents many of the children that are sitting in our classrooms. The story moved along beautifully and was touching in many different points of the story. I enjoyed how the chapters were short, but of course left you wanting to read a few more chapters to find out what was going to happen next. As I was reading, I found that there were many important life lessons that could be addressed, discussed, and learned from throughout the story. This has become one of my new favorite middle-grade novels.
Who Should Read It: Everyone should read this book! I have already decided it is going to be my first read aloud for the year with my fourth graders. I know it will make a solid foundation for classroom community and allow us to refer to many situations that occur on a daily basis in the elementary classroom. There are certain novels that every classroom should use as a read aloud and in my opinion, this is one of them. If you want to put this in the hands of a reader, it would be perfect for students in grades four through six. I know the book doesn't come out until next March, but let me tell you it is WORTH the wait! Happy Reading...
Rating: 5+ STARS out of 5 Stars