How Do You Spell Unfair?: MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee

Candlewick. Apr. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536215540.
PreS-Gr 4–The inspiring team that produced Standing in Need of a Prayer shines the light on another historic moment in American history. MacNolia Cox, a champion speller from Akron, OH, persevered despite racist obstacles in her path to become the first African American top five finalist in the National Spelling Bee. Morrison’s illustrations capture the emotions, tenacity, and strength of Cox and her supporters while Weatherford’s free verse tells the story of a young girl with a gift for spelling (and an amazing work ethic) and her journey to the bee in 1936. Without shying away from the racism Cox endured, Weatherford keeps the focus squarely on the determination of the champion and her supporters for the opportunity to show her talents as a speller. Back matter expands on the story of America’s racist history surrounding spelling bees and includes other remarkable accomplishments by spellers of African descent from last century to the present.
VERDICT Another stunning title from a gifted pair of creators, this deserves a place in all collections as children will root for Cox and be inspired by her amazing accomplishments.

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