“Joey Moss loved making people smile.” So begins author Lorna Schultz Nicholson’s loving tribute to the 12th child born to Sophie and Lloyd Moss on Sept. 25, 1963, in Edmonton, Alta. Joey’s parents “knew there was something different about him. He was born with Down syndrome.”
In clear, simple language, Schultz Nicholson explains to young readers that Down syndrome is a genetic disorder and that Joey would have developmental delays and learn differently. Though Joey’s parents were encouraged to institutionalize their son—parents in the 1960s were told their child with Down syndrome would be a burden—they refused to do so. Joey’s family had a “humble but happy life,” and Joey was treated just like all his siblings.
The Moss family loved music and formed their own band, traveling to and performing in small towns. Joey flourished when he heard music, dancing and shaking a tambourine to the beat. When the band disbursed and, later, Joey’s father died tragically, his single mother did all she could to help her son thrive; Joey graduated from school at 17. Though he worked for several years in a bottle recycling depot, the job was stressful as he had to stand at a bus stop in the frigid winter air and then take several buses to get to work.
One day, Wayne Gretzky, who played in the National Hockey League for the Edmonton Oilers and was a friend of the Moss family, noticed Joey shivering by the bus stop. Gretzky understood the difficulties Joey’s job entailed and wanted the young man to have happier, more fulfilling work. When Gretzky asked the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers to hire Joey to work in the equipment room, he agreed. Joey’s work ethic proved an invaluable asset to the team. But, Schultz Nicholson points out, Joey liked to do more than work hard: “He wanted to make everyone feel good. When a player or staff member arrived for practice, he greeted them with a big smile and ‘Good morning, sunshine!’”
In this informative, charmingly illustrated picture book, young children and their parents or caregivers will meet a man who did much more than work for a pro hockey team: “For the rest of his life, Joey Moss continued to be an inspiration for people and an advocate for those with disabilities. Just by being himself, Joey showed the world that everyone can be force for good, active in their community, and a positive role model.” (Sleeping Bear Press)