An afternoon at Bank Street Bookstore with Mara Rockliff and William Low


meandmommacoverQuestions abounded from the energized and excited audience, as Mara Rockliff and William Low read and discussed the making of their beautiful book, Me and Momma and Big John.

Told from the perspective of a young boy, Little John, Me and Momma and Big John, tells the story of his mother, who was hired as a stonecutter to help build “Big John,” The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, arguably the world’s largest.

One night at bedtime, the enormity of the work involved hits John when he asks his Momma, “‘How many stones have you cut so far?’. . . .  She holds up one finger.  ‘One?’”  But Momma explains, “Building a cathedral isn’t a job . . . . It’s an art.”

Me and Momma and Big John was inspired by the true story of a Carol Hazel, a young mother, who was hired as a stonecutter in the apprentice program begun in the 1970s.  The program lasted 25 years until money for the project ran out.  The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, also known as Saint John the Unfinished, has yet to be completed.

During yesterday’s reading Ms. Rockliff explained that she had first visited the Cathedral when she was in the sixth grade.  Her visit left a lasting impression.

It was a special treat for the children to have both Ms. Rockliff and Mr. Low on hand to answer their many, many (and I mean MANY!) questions.   The children were very surprised to learn that it took Mr. Low an entire year to complete the illustrations for the book.

It was a wonderful afternoon at Bank Street Bookstore.  And also a very special treat for yours truly.

By rnewman504