Have you ever wondered about things you would not have done without the encouragement of your parents, teachers or anyone in your life? Perhaps, we have experienced this, in one way or another. One that I would not forget is how I eventually had the courage to join a poetry contest through the support of my mom and my teacher at that time.
You see, encouragement can make a whole lot of difference to people. It gives us confidence and courage to embark on an uncertain dream, bringing us safely to our destination. It also leads us to pass on the same to others. Fish on a Tree is one of those books that will indeed fire up a timid heart.
This turned out to be one of my daughter’s favorites – and mine too, except that she had the luxury of time to read it over and over and I got to read it once. She was literally always holding this book then that I thought she was not yet done – until I borrowed it. We just loved talking about scenes in the story. She would constantly ask me what part I was reading – she was just too excited for me.
Published only a few years ago, this book is a rare find, considering the stuff you see in the bookstores nowadays. It is an absolute must-read for adolescents, parents and teachers or adults who can relate to what the characters have experienced.
And who would not love The Sketchbook of Impossible Things, illustrated by Kimberly Lynn Hunt? My daughter loved the story especially because she could relate with the main character, a highly-imaginative Ally who loves to draw and doodle. The author has also brought to light other challenges children experience in school such as bullying and peer pressure through the other interesting characters in the story.
The book gives that boost of confidence and appreciation of one’s individuality and strengths, determination to face and address one’s weaknesses. It also teaches kindness and compassion to every person, no matter how different he or she may seem to be.
Ally, who has dyslexia, represents students or children who get noticed because of their disabilities (diagnosed or not) or what they cannot do, forced to live up to the ‘label’ people have given them. She is also similar to those who, other than because of their errors, are often unnoticed, almost invisible, greatly in need of acceptance from peers and adults. Most importantly, she is likened to those students, who, by the unique influence of teachers (like Mr. Daniels) are able to rise above people’s boxed expectations, and discover themselves as they truly are – gifted, as God intends each one to be.
As parents and teachers, or simply as adults, we may have been, at times like the ‘other’ teachers of Ally, who have their own prejudice of children or students, lacking the patience to really get to the root of their concerns, only focusing on the outside and not what is inside. Sometimes, I still do wonder about my old students, and even my children, and pray that I have not done anything to ruin their self-esteem in one way or another. I may have done encouraging things, with sincere intentions, but I may have unknowingly hurt anyone of them as well so I always pray for them. I once shared to my co-teacher and friend, that sometimes what we did and considered right years ago, may surprise us one day as we reflect and realize that though it was not wrong, we probably would have handled things better or more differently then.
This book reminds us of how important it is for adults to be keen observers and to understand that children have different learning styles. What works for many does not always work for everyone. Children often suffer from being compared to their peers, or to siblings, as if they have to be all the same. Well, as far as human beings are concerned, our Creator made sure each one is unique and special. Psychologists can come up with hundreds of theories, for all we know but no one can completely and accurately figure out a human being like a formula that works for all. Our Maker leaves a clue though – the heart.
At times, and often we hope, we may have been also like Ally’s parents who have always believed in what their children are capable of doing, undaunted by what other people say. Her mother may not have immediately discovered or understood her disability but she has always shown those gestures of love and tenderness towards Ally and has always believed that she has a good heart. At the end of the day, as shown in this book, it is always the character of a person, the kindness within, that makes one truly stand out. Kindness is never obsolete.
Heartwarming yet light? Check. Humorous? Check. Enlightening? Check. Delightfully entertaining? Check. Unfortunately, this so-called checklist cannot grasp the totality of this book. It must be READ. Don’t miss the chance to be inspired.
Have you read this book? Care to share your thoughts?
What books have inspired you lately?
To God be the Glory!
(first posted 2019; edited and reposted 2022)