As Fast As Words Could Fly

This post joins other Nonfiction Monday blogs
hosted today by Ms. Yingling Reads
and joins It's Monday!
What are you reading?

Lee & Low Books
(pub. 4.2013) 32 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Pamela M. Tuck
     and Illustrator:  Eric Velasquez

haracter: Mason Steele (fictional character inspired by real-life experiences of the author's father, Moses Teel Jr)

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "Young Mason Steele takes pride in turning his father's excited ramblings about the latest civil rights incidents into handwritten business letters. One day Pa comes home with a gift from his civil rights group: a typewriter. Thrilled with the present, Mason spends all his spare time teaching himself to type. Soon he knows where every letter on the keyboard is located.
        When the civil rights group wins a school desegregation case, Mason learns that now he will be attending a formerly all-white high school. Despite his fears and injustice from the students and faculty, Mason perseveres [and] decides to take a stand, using his skills to triumph over prejudice and break racial barriers."

T antalizing taste: 

    "'Mason Steel, from Belvoir High, has broken all previous records with a typing speed of sixty-five words per minute.'
     No one cheered. Mason just stared straight ahead.
     Mr. Bullock accepted the typing championship plaque for Belvoir High. Not a single person in the audiencd applauded.
    Mason received nothing...
    'Why in the world did you choose a manual typewriter? [instead of an electric one which all the other students in the competition used]'
    Mason cleared his throat. 'Cause it reminds me of where I come from, sir.'"

and something more: I was very pleased to be asked by Lee & Low Books if I would like to feature AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY on my blog. Although it's not a nonfiction picture book biography, I feel this new terrific picture book fits within the "something more" category of my blog.  I believe stories inspired by true events, especially those based on stories of people close to us, can be as rich and inspiring as nonfiction biographies. 
      I was touched by Pamela M. Tuck's explanation of the genesis of this book, as she explains on her website

        "The inspiration to turn a snippet of my father’s story into a picture book was initiated by my husband, Joel. In listening to my father tell his story over and over, his determination to excel always overshadowed his oppositions. Although he mentioned his fears and his feelings of isolation, his confidence kept him from wavering. He held his own personal pep rally, by telling himself, “I can do this.” At first, I didn’t think I could give my father’s story justice as a picture book, and my husband became my personal cheerleader by telling me, “You can do it.” It’s ironic how the same willpower that enabled my father to surpass his doubts, also allowed me to surpass mine."

         I certainly have been blessed by many cheerleaders in my life and I truly cherish each and every one of them. Surpassing one's doubts, especially in the face of discrimination as Pamela M. Tuck's father and countless others did, is to be credited. AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY is just the type of book that will not only teach children about the injustices of the 1960's in the United States, but will also inspire children to believe in themselves to overcome life's challenges and obstacles. 


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Thank you for drawing attention to this book. We do a unit on the Civil Rights movement combining both fiction and nonfiction - this would be a wonderful addition to our library.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Tara, Yes, this book would definitely contribute to a unit on the Civil RIght movement. The author includes an insightful discussion in the Author's Note of the book, connecting her father's experience as one of the first African Americans to graduate from Belvoir-Falkland High School after his father filed a lawsuit demanding desegregation of the North Carolina Pitt County school system.

Perogyo said...

I have always wondered how it really was for the first students at post-segregation schools. I think the lawsuit was probably just the beginning. It's amazing what we owe a bunch of brave teenagers.

Resh said...

I agree with your view that the true events and learning from them are more inspiring them regular picture book biographies. Sometimes the events just seem more real than people. Thanks for sharing this excellent book on NF Monday!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, stories such as these certainly are inspiring!

Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers said...

Like the others who posted, I love books set in the Civil Rights Movement. Thank you so much for sharing!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks Ricki for stopping by! Yes, this is a powerful story about the Civil Rights Movement.