I am pleased to share the following Catholic Book Spotlight interview with Mark Hoffman, co-author of the wonderful new picture book Lolek – The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II.
Please briefly introduce yourselves and your family to our readers.
My name is Mark Hoffman and my wife Mary and I live in Harbor Springs, Michigan with our 4 children and at any given time pet chickens, dogs, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, crayfish and zebra mussels. We were both raised Catholic, I have three brothers and Mary had eight kids in her family. We have an art gallery named Hramiec Hoffman where we sell Mary’s oil paintings, note cards, gift items and books. The motto of our gallery is “Where your purchase is always a gift” because we donate a portion of our income to many charities.
What prompted you to create the beautiful book Lolek – The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II?
Pope John Paul II had been and continues to be a prominent figure of inspiration in both of our lives. The Hramiec household was especially devoted to him as Mary grew up. We knew that his life was a story that we wanted to preserve and share with the children of the world in the hopes of continuing the legacy of faith, humility, fortitude and love that he left. We wanted to document the incredible life this man led and present it at a child’s level. He affected our world in so many positive ways and continues to be a motivating factor in the lives of adults and children alike.
How does this book differ from other biographical books for children on the life of our beloved Holy Father?
This storybook is a 56 page illustrated hardcover, that not only tells the story of his childhood, but also encourages children to be leaders, making it a wonderful gift. The illustrations captivate even the very young, enabling them to listen to the message. The reading level is targeted at the 8-12 year old age group, but many older children enjoy the extra information at the back of the book. This book is also used as a reference because there is an illustration of a rosary at the end accompanied by the prayers and instructions on how to say it.
How did your own faith journeys impact upon your interest in creating this type of book?
We are devout Catholics and proud of our faithful heritage. Any struggles or joys in our life are met intuitively with prayer and thanksgiving. An integral part of raising our children is leading by example, just as we ourselves still use role models. John Paul II has been an incredible role model in our lives and Lolek – The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II has become an inspiration for our children as far as morality and leadership.
What reaction have you received from families who have enjoyed reading Lolek’s story?
We are proud to say that our feedback thus far has been enthusiastically positive. We love hearing that our book has been purchased for baptisms, first communions and birthdays. These are important milestones and we are thrilled and thankful that we can be a part of these special times.
Towards the back of the book, you include a few special extra features – can you please say a few words about those?
We included instructions on how to say the rosary, encouragement for children and details about what to do if they feel a calling from the Lord for a religious vocation. We could not fit all of the materials that we had created at the end of the book, so they can be found as “free downloads” on our website.
Do you have any plans for additional books in the future?
Our plan is to continue writing and illustrating inspirational stories for children, we will begin a new project after most of the marketing is finished for Lolek.
How can readers see more of Mary’s lovely artwork?
We are pleased to welcome visitors to our shop at 6915 M119 in Harbor Springs, Michigan where we also have note cards with illustrations from “Lolek”. You may also visit our website www.hramiechoffman.com or to call Mark at any time to purchase items or find out more about upcoming projects, artwork or books. (231) 526-1011.
Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
We are so grateful and blessed to have been able to produce this storybook. We are especially thankful to those who have chosen to support our efforts by purchasing this book; it enables us to continue living our lives through gospel values and spreading Pope John Paul II’s message of hope and inspiration to the children and adults of the world.
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