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Golem by David Wisniewski
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This story is about Prague in 1580 where Jews are being persecuted and being accused of mixing blood of Christian children with flour and water from the unleavened Passover bread. In order to save the Jews, a rabbi, his son-in-law, and his best student create a Golem, a man made of clay from the Earth and given life through power from God. The Golem hides among the people during the day and at night he protects the Jews in their ghetto. When the ghetto is attacked, the Golem defends the Jews and chases away the attackers, prompting those persecuting the Jews to agree to stop the attacks. After the Jews are safe, Golem is put back into the Earth where he would rest until the time that the Jews would need him again.

I didn’t like the ending of this story. I understood the message behind it and the overall plot, however, the I didn’t like the treatment of the Golem. I found that the way of ‘killing’ the Golem—while he begged for his life—was cruel and it gave off an overall air that it is okay to get rid of things that are no longer of use. I would be hesitant to introduce the story into my classroom library, due to the death of the Golem at the end.

Classroom Extensions:
1. I would set up a station where children would be able to create their own clay Golems.
2. We could discuss other periods of time in which the Golem could have been ‘awakened’ to help defend the Jews.
  GSoto95 | Feb 10, 2015 |
I found this book to be quite intense for a child, both with the story line as well as the artwork. I was quite disappointed to read this story. At one point, the Rabbi claims Golem is a servant of Israel, yet the state of Israel did not exist until 1948 through the Balfour Declaration thanks to the British. I was also disturbed by the idea that the Jews were so upset about being in a walled city, yet that is the situation of the Palestinians now. Maybe I brought too much of my own personal bias to the table when I read this book, but it is definitely not a book I would read to any child.
  InstantLaila | Dec 7, 2014 |
I found this story to be very similar to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in that a monster is created for one purpose and once that purpose is fulfilled its life is no longer deemed necessary. I thought the book was informational in how it discussed Judaism, but I focused and sympathized more with the Golem then the rabbi, which distracted me from the story's main theme- the righteous and pious are reward i.e. the rabbi being given the power to create the Golem in the first place. overall, interesting read but it would be too difficult a read for my young students. ( )
  kberryman44 | Dec 6, 2014 |
A book was much more difficult to understand and If I was a child I don't think it would have been a favorite of mine.
  Madison_DeWeerdt | Dec 4, 2014 |
Golem is a tough book to grasp but had an interesting story and plot, teaching us about loss and gain. I liked the toughness of the situation and the emotional impact of the book. The pictures are beautiful and truly display the situations of the story in a strong and impact-full manner. The one that stood out the most was the march towards the ghetto, the flames and reds of the page show the anger and hostility that is building up. Another aspect I liked was the idea that was being thrust upon the reader, getting them to have to think hard on the loss that was happening. The last few pages show this the best when golem gets his life taken from him, speaking as his last words, "life is so precious to me!" ( )
  mduval7 | Oct 1, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395726182, Hardcover)

Golem is the Hebrew word for shapeless man. According to Jewish legend, the renowned scholar and teacher Rabbi Loew used his powers to create a Golem from clay in order to protect his people from persecution in the ghettos of 16th-century Prague. (This was the time of the Blood Lie, when hostile gentiles claimed that Jews were mixing the blood of Christian children with the flour and water of matzo.) David Wisniewski's cut-paper collage illustrations--which earned him the Caldecott Medal in 1997--are the ideal medium for portraying the stark black-and-white forces of good and evil, pride and prejudice, as well as the gray area that emerges when the tormented clay giant loses control of his anger. Echoing the tension and mood of Frankenstein, Wisniewski sends the tragic giant back to the blood red earth that birthed him. The historical note on the last page offers a broader context for the legend, ultimately comparing the creation of Golem to the emergence of Israel. (Ages 8 and older) --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:42 -0400)

A saintly rabbi miraculously brings to life a clay giant who helps him watch over the Jews of sixteenth-century Prague.

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