Awards, Honors, and Reviews

  •  2007 Lee & Low Books New Voices Award
  • 2013 IRA Diverse & Impressive Children's Picture Book List
  • Top 10 Great Literary Finds with Young Readers in Mind for 2013
    (Conversations Book Club)
  • 2014 ALSC Notable Children's Books Discussion List
  • Cybils Award Nominee for Fiction Picture Books
  • 2014 Teachers' Choices Reading List - IRA
  • 2014-2015 Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award Nominee
  • 2014 Skipping Stones Honor Book Award
  • 2015-2016 Show Me Reader Award Final Nominee - MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians)
  • 2015 Storytelling World Resource Award
  • 2015 Martin Luther King "Living the Dream" Book Award Winner
  • 2016 Charlotte Award Nominee (New York State Reading Association)

Review by BOOKLIST:

"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." 


"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."


"Tuck’s story, based on her father’s personal experiences with school segregation in 1960s North Carolina, won Lee & Low’s New Voices award in 2007, resulting in this picture book, illustrated in dramatic oil paintings by Velasquez (The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery). Mason Steele helps his father’s civil rights efforts by writing letters for him; when the Steeles get a manual typewriter, Mason shows a gift for typing quickly and accurately. After a court case wins Mason and his brothers the right to attend a local high school, they are met with distrust and outright hostility at every turn . . .  Tuck lays bare the challenges that faced Mason and black students like him, but she also tempers the story’s cold realities with moments of hope, echoed by the pride and determination visible in scenes of Mason and his family."

Review by KIRKUS:

"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 . . . A warm. . . title about the struggle for equality."


"Based on some of the true experiences of the author's father, this fictional picture book contains illustrations that are so high quality as to resemble paintings rather than pictures. The story itself deals with the complex concepts of racial discrimination and the civil rights movement, and there are references to Dr. Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Neighborhood Youth Corps. . . . This story is well worth the work of sorting it all out, and it will undoubtedly inspire a new general of readers."


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