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Me and Momma and Big John

Illustrated by William Low
Candlewick Press

"Every page is infused with golden light, quiet pride, and soaring hope."
Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW

Golden Kite Award Winner

Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book

Junior Library Guild Selection
New York Public Library "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing"
Bank Street College of Education - Best Children's Books of the Year

Me and Momma and Big John cover

"This is the rare children’s book that shows how a building is built with less of an emphasis on cranes and bulldozers and more on the difficult work of laboring hands. But it’s not only about the grueling hardness of labor; “Me and Momma and Big John” is also about the rewards of a labor of love, and of a job well done." The New York Times

"Rockliff’s lyrical text celebrates collaboration and communion. . . . An intriguing examination of the inside story of one of New York City’s most important and beloved monuments."
Kirkus Reviews

"A beautiful piece of work made all the better by the hardworking multi-ethnic cast populating its pages. . . Rockliff gives kids the key to understanding that every monument, no matter how large, was formed by real people with families. And the world feels that much more human and personable." —Betsy Bird, "A Fuse #8 Production"

"Me and Momma and Big John is a quietly excellent children's book that deserves attention as one of the best of 2012." —Teaching for Change

From the jacket:

Momma comes home from work, tired and sore from a long day at her job. She's a stonecutter now, helping to build "Big John"--the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. She works for weeks on just one stone, and her son John wonders how she does it. When at last Momma's stone is finished, John can't wait to see it. But when he arrives at the cathedral, he can't believe it is just one plain stone--where is Momma's name? How will all the people know this is Momma's art?
    This touching story, inspired by one of the first women in the United States to learn the traditional craft of stonecutting, lovingly shows how having pride in one's work, and one's momma, comes with great grace and dignity. Gorgeously illustrated with the illuminated artwork of William Low, the transcendent beauty of Saint John's Cathedral radiates with warmth and dignity. As Momma tells John, "Building a cathedral isn't just a job. It's an art."

From the author's note:
The apprentice program lasted twenty-five years. Then the money ran out again, and construction stopped. But life went on inside Big John . . .
One of the apprentices was a young mother, Carol Hazel, who inspired Me and Momma and Big John. "Stonecutting is in my blood," she says today. "The cathedral is a beautiful thing, and beautiful people helped build it."

by Mara Rockliff
Picture Book
Candlewick, 2012
ISBN 978-0-76364359-1

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Mara Rockliff, children's writer My booksMeHome