Have you ever wondered about things you would not have done without the encouragement of your parents or teachers?
I remember joining a poetry contest for the first time way back in school. I submitted my poem, and during that time, I was unsure if I would in fact submit my poem. With the assurance of my mother, I finally had the courage to do so. A few weeks later, in the middle of the class, I was informed that I won along with another student and I was being asked to proceed to a room where we had to write a new poem on-the-spot for the judges to decide who wins the first place. Hesitant, and with momentary panic, I would have lost my nerve and would not have gone there without my teacher’s words of motivation. I eventually won first place but it was not winning that made a mark on me. It was how 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 connects us and 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.
Early last year, I was helping my daughter find a book (for the mere pleasure of reading) and we both chose this one. It turned out to be one of her 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 that I thought she was not yet done – until I borrowed it.
Published only about four 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. And who would not love The Sketchbook of Impossible Things, illustrated by Kimberly Lynn Hunt? My daughter liked the story especially because she could relate with the main character, a highly-imaginative Ally who loves to draw and doodle. 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.
The book gives that boost of confidence, that piece of inspiration, because it helps one appreciate the individuality of people, of one’s own person.
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 also represents 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 represents those students, who, by the unique influence, of teachers (like by Mr. Daniels) were able to rise above people’s boxed expectations, and discover themselves as they truly are – gifted.
As parents and teachers, or simply as adults, we may have been, at times like the ‘other’ teachers of Ally, who have our 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. I do not teach anymore but I still do wonder about my students, and even my children now, and pray that I have not done anything to ruin their self-esteem in one way or another. I may have done encouraging things, but I may have unknowingly hurt anyone of them as well. I once shared to my co-teacher and friend, that sometimes what we did and considered correct years ago, may surprise us one day as we reflect and realize that they no longer seem correct now. That if that happened now, we probably would handle things more differently.
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 one 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?
To God be the glory.