A recent book that is acclaiming much attention is As Fast As Words Could Fly, written by Pamela M. Tuck, and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Set in the heart of the Civil Rights movement, the story is told from the perspective of a young boy, who is transformed as he begins to participate in social action. Loosely based of the childhood experiences of Tuck’s father, it is an honest and heartfelt journey of overcoming discrimination and unfair treatment.
Mason Steele is a young boy who spends his evenings writing letters for his father’s civil rights work in Greenville, NC. One day, his father’s friends give him a typewriter, as a gift for all the letters he has written. Mason quickly learns to type, and soon is one of the best typists in the county. After his father’s group wins a civil rights case at the local all-White high school, Mason discovers that he and his brothers will now be attending the newly integrated school. The book does not shirk from the harsh realities that the boys face as young men of color, but is gentle in its illustrations.
Mason goes on to set the record for typing in the county, but not a single person in the audience clapped. The disappointment in that moment is as tender as the pride and love demonstrated in family scenes.
The book is incredibly powerful—from themes of determination, hope, and family. Educators are excited about a new book that takes a different view on the Civil Right Movement. It’s not the story of Ruby Bridges—this one inspires a different feeling of hope. Written at a third or fourth grade level, the book is appropriate for use amongst children 5 and up.