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Me and Momma and Big John
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Me and Momma and Big John

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Momma is a stonecutter at the cathedral called Big John — and little John and his sisters can't wait to see her special stone — in this luminous true-life story.

"Building a cathedral isn’t a job, it’s an art."
Momma comes home from work, tired and sore from a long day at her job. She used to work on the factory line, but now an early bus takes her across the bridge into New
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Candlewick (first published August 14th 2012)
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Jul 03, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
The people of New York City are spoiled beyond belief. Many's the time I've traipsed down the street and glanced at one of the passing skyscrapers or cathedrals thinking "in any other town that building would be considered the pride and joy of the city". Heck, I grew up in Kalamazoo where the Comerica building downtown was, when I was a kid, considered by me to be the tallest building in the world. But even as kids in every city, in every state, in every country pass and glance at the local arch ...more
Angela Bailey
Sep 09, 2013 Angela Bailey rated it really liked it
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Me and momma and big John. / Mara Rockliff. William Low (ill.). / 2012.

Genre: Fiction.

Format: Picturebook - print.

Plot summary:
"Little John is proud of his mother's work as a stonecutter for a cathedral called "Big John," but struggles to understand the importance of spending so much time on one stone that no one will know Momma cut. Includes a history of New York City's Cathedral of St. John the Divine" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers advi
May 26, 2014 Genee121 rated it really liked it
Me and Momma and Big John written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by William Low is a wonderful informative story told from the eyes of a boy named John and how his mother works extremely hard all day as a stonecutter. She is one of the many working on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. John doesn't understand how or why his mother works on just one stone all day long. One day, John, his mother and siblings take a trip to see the cathedral and the place where their mother's sto ...more
Age: Kindergarten - 2nd grade
Family: Mother

An exquisitely written piece of history for a younger age group about one woman's influence on a grandiose building. This book is just asking for further discussion on size and how important our small influence is in the grander scheme of things. Beyond the words, the format is larger than an average picture book, allowing it to be read aloud in a group.
Nov 29, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Appeal Characteristics: visual art, historical, informative, multi-cultural, New York

I picked up this book not expecting anything...and ended up learning a lot. Since i'm not a native New Yorker, I had no idea who or what Big John was...(I figured they were referring to a Saint). I was definitely educated on the fact that stone cutting is a dying art and the many variety of ways Big John has been used.
Sep 27, 2013 Taquiena rated it really liked it
I fell in love with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's story before I encountered its sacred hymn to the world's humanity. This children's story captures what made the Cathedral both inspiring and magical to me.
Wonderful story. So much here to think about: the nature of art, the nature of accomplishment. Endnote with history & context, describing the apprenticeship program that inspired the book.
Cassandra Gelvin
May 17, 2017 Cassandra Gelvin rated it liked it
So when does she get to join the Freemasons?

It's about a boy whose mom is working the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. It's historical fiction. She's learning to be a stonecutter. It's a really big cathedral and he tries to understand the fact that she works on the same stone for weeks, which really makes me wonder how anything ever gets done in the world if that's how fast stonecutters actually work. So it's a cathedral, and it's pretty inside, and stonecutting is an art.

It's pre
Christine Turner
Momma is a stonecutter at the cathedral called Big John, and little John and his sisters can't wait to see her special stone, in this luminous true-life story.

"Building a cathedral isn't a job, it's an art." Momma comes home from work, tired and sore from a long day at her job. She used to work on the factory line, but now an early bus takes her across the bridge into New York City. Momma is a stonecutter now, helping to build the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. She works all day on just on
Barry Asmaou
Me and Momma and Big John is a good book that touch upon a lot of history and architectural details. It about a boy name John who through out the story admires his mothers art work. His mom is a stonecutter who is helping to build the Cathedral of Saint John also known as Big John. She is a very hard worker spends a lot of time sculpting one stone at a time. John and his two sisters are very fascinated about the things she does and wonder how she does it. One day his mom took them to the cathedr ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Angela rated it it was amazing
This realistic fiction book tells the story of Momma who gets home from work and is very tired and exhausted. She used to work at a factory but now she is a stonecutter at the cathedral called Big John. She wakes up early to catch the bus across the way in New York City for her current job. She works all day on just one stone and little John wonders how momma will get recognition for that one stone, having no proof that momma built it.

Rockliff makes a great tale of a typical working class Afric
Oct 31, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York has been under construction for 120 years. That's a long time, even by the standards of some of the European great cathedrals. In fact, its interior is actually larger than any of the famous cathedrals of Europe.
The story is about one period in the history of the building project, in which New Yorkers were being trained in traditional crafts, such as stonecutting. The viewpoint character's mother has been one of those apprentices, and one of the few wome
Jan 24, 2013 IrenesBookReviews rated it it was amazing
The Momma in this story is helping with a stone that will be placed on the Cathedral of Saint John in New York City. The story is told from the viewpoint of her son. There is a page at the end of the book that describes the history of the event being written about here. I would recommend reading those two pages first; you will enjoy the story even more when you understand the history. I gave this book 5/5 stars. The story was well written with just enough information to make it interesting and n ...more
Bria Tepe
Feb 18, 2016 Bria Tepe rated it it was amazing
This book showed a perspective I've never seen/heard/read before. It contained a unique story and a unique lesson. The lesson could be that even if your good deeds or hard work aren't seen, that doesn't mean they don't matter. Hard work might go unnoticed, but it doesn't mean it wasn't hard work! The son, Jon, learned that in the story. At first he was disappointed that his momma's stone wouldn't be seen, but then he realized that it didn't matter that everyone didn't see his momma's stone.
Aug 21, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it
This is the kind of picture book that older readers will enjoy more than younger readers. I read it and I thought it was great to foster a conversation about patience. I liked it quite a bit. I don't know the cathedral that is referenced in the title, but I'm no New Yorker either, so that can be expected. In any case, I liked the story quite a bit
Katie Hall
Nov 02, 2015 Katie Hall marked it as to-read
Shelves: picture-books, top-20
Title: Me and Momma and Big John
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: William Low
Publisher: Candlewick
Date: August 28th 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
This book would be a great book to read at the beginning of the year. It is a book that discusses taking pride in one’s work. You don’t have to be recognized for your work, but you can take pride in the work you do.
Amy Hughes
Jan 10, 2014 Amy Hughes rated it really liked it
Me and Momma and Big John is based on a mother who is a stone cutter. Her son and daughter cannot wait to see what their mother has been working. In this book, the mother is the main provider and works hard to provide for her children. The students are proud to see their mothers work.
Me and Momma and Big John is a fictional story about a family and their part of the construction of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. It gives some of the history of this great landmark that started in 1892 within the text as well as in the back of the book.
A story of the slow process of completion of St. John's Cathedral in New York. From a child's perspective, whose mother is a stone-cutter working on "Big John". Positive themes of hard work, persistence and supporting your family. Lovely artwork.
Aug 06, 2013 Danielle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Such an unusual book on an unusual topic.
Covers big and small. Big world, small, distinct family; big cathedral, small important contribution; small hands all together making big, beautiful art.
Jan 03, 2013 Christopher rated it it was ok
The story is truly nothing special but the illustrations were very interesting. The use of light against dark to convey sunlight in the cathedral was very well done. Yet, it's not enough to overcome a truly ho hum story.
I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you:
Jul 25, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Beautiful art, and a wonderful story about the "Big John" Cathedral in New York City and the countless people who have built it over the years.
Jun 15, 2013 Zoe rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book about contemporary urban stone cutters in New York City and St. John's Cathedral. St.John's has a very special place in my life and heart.
Dec 22, 2012 Tisha rated it really liked it
Love the story, illustrations and message. Wonderful book.
Edward Sullivan
Aug 21, 2012 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully told, superbly illustrated story about a single mom who is a stonecutter working on St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City.
Linda Atkinson
Jan 10, 2013 Linda Atkinson rated it liked it
Not seeing it. 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 22, 2016 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Momma works as a stonecutter on the cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC.

The boy thinks about the difference between art in a museum and the art of one block of stone in a big cathedral.
Jan 13, 2013 Jacqueline rated it liked it
Meh art with a so so story line.
Dec 27, 2012 Inge rated it did not like it
Creepy hands, dead eyes, inconsistent illustrations, and totally affected prose.
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Mara Rockliff is the author of Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France and Anything but Ordinary Addie, The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic, as well as many other books for children. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her family.
More about Mara Rockliff...

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