As Fast As Words Could Fly

By School Library Journal

Velasquez’s vibrant paintings animate this earnest story based on actual incidents in the life of the author’s father. Fourteen-year-old Mason transcribes letters for his father, a local civil rights activist; as a reward, he receives a manual typewriter. Then he and his older brothers learn that they’ll be among the first to desegregate their local high school. It’s not easy: the school bus driver refuses to stop for them, fellow students and teachers ignore them; but as Pa says, “Somebody’s got to make a change.” Mason quietly perseveres and his typing skills win him a job in the school library. Eventually, he earns the right to represent the school at a regional typing contest. Velasquez deepens readers’ understanding and empathy for these characters with well-chosen details: Mason listens eagerly to Pa’s impassioned speeches as Ma looks on with a bemused smile. The striking compositions in rich browns and blues, along with Tuck’s pride in her family, help distinguish this story of perseverance and courage. This well-crafted tale would be an excellent complement to overviews of the Civil Rights Movement.