From School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-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.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In her debut offering, Tuck draws on her grandfather’s experience as a teen during the civil rights movement in Greenville, North Carolina, to tell a moving story that captures the history with immediacy and drama. At 14, Mason Steele helps his father’s civil rights group write letters, and he is thrilled when they buy him a manual typewriter. Then the adult activists win the right to integrate high school, but Mason and his brothers face harassment on the school bus and in the classroom. As the fastest typist in his class, Mason is chosen to represent his school in a high-school typing tournament, and he wins, breaking all the records. From the beautiful cover picture of the boy’s fingers on the typewriter keys, to the ugly view of the racist bus driver who tells the black pupils to “get to the back,” Velasquez’s handsome oil paintings on watercolor paper bring close the details of one boy’s struggle. Told from a personal viewpoint and appended with a powerful author’s note, this is a story to share across generations. Grades 3-8. --Hazel Rochman