Review: As Fast as Words Could Fly

As Fast as Words Could FlyAs Fast as Words Could Fly
by Pamela M. Tuck

Lee & Low Publishers: NY (2013)

ISBN13: 9781600603488

Based on the true story of Mason Steele, a fourteen year old boy growing up in North Carolina, at the tipping point of school desegregation. This is a very personal story written by Pamela Tuck and illustrated in vivid, rich colors by Eric Velazquez. Mason and his brothers are anything but “welcomed” to the local high school. However, using Dr. King as their model, the young African-American men embrace tolerance even in the face of hostility and ignorance from white students and teachers. Mason’s typewriter is his vehicle for acceptance in the turbulent landscape. You can almost hear the “tap, tap, tap, tap, tap… DING!” that even young readers will find familiar. This book is a great addition to any children’s collection. The language used and characters in the book are authentic; the explanation of the SCLC and the impact of Golden Frinks in the 1960’s is clear and simple. Like Mason’s “tinkling bell,” the words truly fly in this thought-provoking and quietly moving story.

Quantitative: Lexile Level 700 (Adult Directed Reading advised); ATOS 4.3

Qualitative: This book is recommended as a picture book for lower grades (K-3) but the themes of Civil Rights and the historical context of the material bring it up to the grade 4-7 range in my opinion. It is a good picture book to share in a read aloud with young students, as this allows for clarification and direction from an adult on the various organizations mentioned and historical events referred to in the story. Once students have heard the story and engaged in some discussion and critical thought about the events and outcomes, it is a wonderful resource for students to return to independently. It is also an excellent addition to any collection of books examining the Civil Rights for older students as the main character is 14 years old .

Content Area: English, History – Civil Rights

Common Core Standards: RI.3.1 – RI.3.10; W.3.1-W.3.3; SL.3.1-SL.3.6; 

Additional/Digital Resources:

Awards: New Voices Award/Honor Book (2013)


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