I wasn't sure how this book of poems would turn out because it was the first time that I wrote poems based on an historical event—a circus fire in Hartford, CT, in 1944—but I was quite pleased with the result. One of my biggest challenges in writing this book was to keep it from being a totally dark book. On the other hand, the story of the fire and its aftermath is a sad story, so I didn't want to give it a happily-ever-after ending. One of the ways I tried to balance the heartbreak of the events with poems about people who acted with courage and goodness during and after the tragedy.
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Voice of Youth Advocates Poetry Pick
A South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee
"Janeczko gives fictional voice to these spectators and workers, who share their hopes, fears, despair, and gratitude."
— The Horn Book
"Paul Janeczko's searing account of the . . . disaster is one that readers will not easily forget. The voices, particularly those of the victims who did not escape the fire and panic of those terrible moments, haunt me still."
— Karen Hesse, Newbury Award-winning author of Out of the Dust and Witness.