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Alethea Allarey

Written by Pat Schmatz

Published by Candlewick, 2011 


New home, new school, new friends, and missing his best friend Rosco, his hound dog, Travis begins his new life. He lives in the country with his recovering alcoholic grandpa who means well. The problem is Travis dislikes school and has a history of cutting, and this year is no different. He cuts class on the first day and his grandpa has to take off work to go look for Travis. Like school, Travis doesn’t seem to like his grandpa, who has his own secret, he killed Travis’ dog and feels guilty. Travis has a lot of resentment toward his grandpa and the reasons are slowly revealed.

Travis meets two people who have a huge impact on his life, Velveeta, who he finds unexpectedly kind and has a vibrant, caring personality. Velveeta has suffered the loss of a close friend who introduced her to books and provided her with a way and place to escape her hardships. The second person is a teacher, Mr. McQueen, who is one of those teachers who will not lot let students off-the-hook with a “Pass” answer.  Mr. McQueen quickly discovers Travis’ secret. Travis has a learning disability and cannot read.   

Bluefish is a story of friendship and about making connections and fitting in. It is a story about friendship and forgiveness. It is a story both students and teachers will enjoy reading.

Meet the Author

Before settling in rural Wisconsin, Pat Schmatz lived in various parts of the United States, including California, where she attended UC Berkeley. She enjoys the outdoors, and her interests include traveling, running, skiing and swimming. In addition to writing, Pat provides services to the Minnesota Legal Aid Society. Schmatz is also the author of Mousetraps, and Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O. 

For more information, see


  • Carousel Activity:  Use chart paper or butcher paper to create 4-5 charts around the room each with one of the following headings: Reading, Disabilities, Friendship, Bullying, and Swamps. Divide students up and have them list whatever comes to mind under each heading. Set a time limit and have students rotate around room to each poster. After all students have had an opportunity to record ideas, discuss each list and why choices were made. Have students make predictions to what they think the novel will be about.
  • Tea Party Activity:  Select various quotes from the first chapter and distribute to students. Have students read their quotes to each other. When it seems like most students have read their quotes to most of the other students, have students make predictions about the novel.


Jacobsen, Jennifer Richard. Small as an Elephant. Candlewick Press. 2013.
Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Random House Children’s Books. 2012.
Polacco, Patricia. Bully. Penguin Group Inc. 2012.
Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Random House Children’s Books. 2004.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar and Spy. Random House Children’s Books.  2013.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. Penguin Group Inc. 2012.

For more information, please check the 2014-2015 Resource Guide - Middle School/Junior High.