The narrator's father, who remains unnamed, is a printer for a New York newspaper in the mid-1940's. The author's note explains that, in the past, the deaf were often relegated to noisy physical labor such as this. When a fire breaks out, he and the other deaf printers must save the lives of the other workers. They accomplish this through the use of American Sign Language, signaling to each other across the printing room. After everyone escapes from the building safely, the hearing employees tell the narrator's father "thank you" in sign language. Deaf children will be able to identify with the communication barriers between those who can hear and those who cannot. They also may feel a sense of empowerment, since the heroes of the book use sign language in circumstances in which speaking would not have been as effective. Since the narrator himself is not deaf, children from families with both hearing and non-hearing members will be able to relate to his situation. Hearing readers will learn about some of the obstacles that hearing-impaired people face and how they have been discriminated against both in the past and in the present. The 1940's-era illustrations are very realistic and add to the earnest and poignant tone of the book. The last page contains instructions on making a newspaper hat like those worn by the printers in the book. 2003, Peachtree, Ages 6 to 9.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A unique tale of a quiet kind of heroism-literally and figuratively. A young boy tells the story of his deaf father who loved working as a printer for a major newspaper but was saddened by the fact that his hearing coworkers ignored him because he couldn't talk. When a fire erupts in the noisy pressroom, he and his deaf colleagues use their hands to signal the danger to their hearing cohorts, and everyone escapes the inferno. When the plant reopens, the grateful men express their thanks in sign language and crown their savior with a four-cornered hat made from the freshly printed newspaper. Based on the author's own father, the hero is an unassuming man who tries to do his work to the best of his ability. The simplicity of the story gives the text its drama, and its message of caring for one's fellow humans is powerful. An endnote provides details about the printing industry of the 1940s and the role that deaf workers played in newspaper production. Sirensen's realistic oil paintings complement the serious mood of the text. Although some of the facial expressions lack intensity, the artwork does a good job of conveying the action. Use this title for classroom discussions focusing on labor history, handicaps, or moral values.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Uhlberg pays tribute to his father, a hearing child of deaf parents, with this semi-autobiographical tale of a deaf-mute worker in a roaring newspaper printing plant, who spots a fire and finds a way to spread the alarm. Thanks to his heroic efforts, everyone is saved, and after the devastated plant reopens, his previously standoffish hearing co-workers express their gratitude with both a folded paper printer's cap, and by signing "thank you." Sorensen sets the episode in 1940s New York, using sober colors, depicting figures in a realistic style against looming, shadowy presses, and capturing action with sequences of inset panels. Instructions for folding a printer's hat and for making the American Sign Language signs for "fire" and "thank you" close another heartfelt tale of an ordinary person rising to meet an extraordinary challenge. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)