Everyone thinks Ally is just dumb, even Ally. The other kids seem to be able to read so easily, but it has never been easy for Ally. She lives in constant terror that someone will ask her to read or write in class, so she keeps a store of tricks she can use to get out of reading, most of which land her in the principal's office. All of that changes when her teacher goes on maternity leave, and a new teacher takes her place. Mr. Daniels quickly figures out that Ally is not dumb at all. He tries to figure out why she has been labeled a "problem" student, but he has to proceed carefully. She has been traumatized by so many other teachers that she is easily spooked. It takes the concerted effort of Mr. Daniels, and Ally's two new misfit friends, Albert and Keisha, to convince Ally just how smart, and strong, she really is.
This is a wonderful, feel-good, story. It is not a new story, nor is it told in a new way, but it is just so sweet all the way through. I feel like I could give this book to any little 8 year old girl without reservations and she would totally love it. It is interesting that I read this just after reading George. Both books are really the same story; two kids who have a burden of keeping their true selves secret from a judgmental world. It shows my own bias that I was uncomfortable with one book and totally enjoyed the other. I guess that is one thing that books do, they show us ourselves. (276 p.)