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Me and Momma and Big John
Contributor(s): Rockliff, Mara, Low, William (Illustrator)

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ISBN: 0763643599     ISBN-13: 9780763643591
Publisher: Candlewick Pr
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Binding Type: School And Library
Published: August 2012

Annotation: A tale inspired by a true story follows the experiences of Little John, who along with his sisters excitedly anticipates the completion of a latest sculpture by his mother, a stonecutter at the Big John cathedral.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Stonecutters; Fiction.
Mothers and sons; Fiction.
Cathedrals; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Art & Architecture
- Juvenile Fiction | Lifestyles
- Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
Dewey: [E]
LCCN: 2011046649
Lexile Measure: 660
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7
Book type: Easy Fiction
Physical Information: 12.00" H x 10.00" W x 0.50" (1.30 lbs) 32 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 152753
Reading Level: 3.8   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q58366
Reading Level: 2.8   Interest Level: Grades K-2   Point Value: 1.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): >William Low is a much-lauded illustrator, author, and painter who has received numerous awards. His books include Chinatown and Old Penn Station. He lives in New York City.

William Low is a much-lauded illustrator, author, and painter who has received numerous awards. His books include CHINATOWN and OLD PENN STATION. He lives in New York City.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring)
John's mother works as a stonecutter at New York's Saint John the Divine cathedral. He comes to understand the significance of contributing a small part to an enormous effort. This is a quiet story with a strong message. Low uses angles and light to convey the grandeur of the cathedral and, by extension, the value of honest work. An author's note adds context.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2012 June #3)

When John's mother trudges home from her first day as a stonecutter, "She is gray as ashes, from her headscarf to her boots. Even her bouncy beaded earrings have gone dull as dirt." What's more, it's all from cutting just one stone, "and it's not done yet." But Momma doesn't mind the hard work because she's a stonecutter at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, and what she does "isn't just a job.... It's an art." With Rockliff's (My Heart Will Not Sit Down) plainspoken lyricism providing scaffolding for Low's (Machines Go to Work) incandescent realism, the story of a struggling family transformed through the joy and power of meaningful work is woven into the history of a beloved spiritual landmark. Whether the scene is inside the narrator's modest apartment or looking down from the barrel vault ceiling onto the cathedral's magnificent nave, every page is infused with golden light, quiet pride, and soaring hope. An afterword provides background on the still-unfinished cathedral and the training program that employed people like Momma. Ages 3–8. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Aug.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2012 September)

K-Gr 2—When Momma comes home from working as a stonecutter for New York City's St. John the Divine, affectionately known as "Big John," she is tired and covered with dust. It is hard work, and no one knows how many decades it will take to finish the cathedral. Her middle son, the narrator, is amazed when he finds out that all this time she has only worked on one stone. His mother explains that what she does is an art, and the boy proudly imagines Momma's name on display in a museum. When they visit Big John, the boy is disappointed to find that his mother's stone looks identical to all the others, and that no one will ever know which is hers. But as they experience the majesty of the cathedral and lift their voices in song, he realizes that there is an art to being part of something bigger than yourself. Luminous digital paintings create warm family scenes and bright cityscapes, and capture the majesty of the building. Light and shadow are deftly employed to create drama and depth, heighten emotion, and portray the sacred nature of the structure and the spirit of community it engenders. Featuring a close-knit African American family, this is lovely addition.—Anna Haase Krueger, formerly at Antigo Public Library, WI

[Page 122]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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