A tribute to her father, Tuck’s school desegregation story highlights an African-American boy’s triumph in a typing tournament.
Mason Steele (the fictionalized version of Tuck’s father, Moses Teel Jr.) is a 14-year-old who helps his father’s civil rights group by writing letters for them. Impressed and grateful, the group presents him with a manual typewriter, which proves useful when Mason and his siblings desegregate a public school in their home state of North Carolina and encounter overt hostility and discrimination. He nevertheless excels and earns the honor of representing his school in a countywide typing tournament—a position racist administrators grant him to avoid trouble with the Board of Education after he scores highest in his typing class. The other competitors choose electric typewriters, but although he realizes that he will lose time, Mason selects a manual typewriter, later saying “[I]t reminds me of where I come from.” And he wins. The victory’s drama seems woefully understated, however, especially since Velasquez’s accompanying oil paintings never show the children typing, instead depicting moments before and after the competition. And yet, although he lacks celebration from those outside his family, Mason is proud, knowing “his words typed on paper had already spoken for him—loud and clear.”
A warm, if understated, title about the struggle for equality. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)