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Clay Man: The Golem of Prague Hardcover – November 10, 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–6—This account of the 16th-century legend is narrated by a rabbi's son, Jacob, who is frustrated by expectations that he follow in his father's and older brother's scholarly footsteps. However, everything changes when Jacob and his father dream the same dream and the rabbi creates a large clay man to protect the Jews of Prague. After a few mishaps, Josef, the golem, foils a baker's plan to poison the matzah, prevents a man from planting a child's body in the ghetto to prove that Jews use the blood of Christian children for their Passover preparations, and stops other plots and schemes. When Emperor Rudolf announces that the "Blood Lie" is false, Rabbi Loew is confident that the Jews are no longer in need of the golem's protection. He and Jacob take Josef to the attic of the Old-New Synagogue and change the Hebrew letters on his forehead from "emet" meaning truth to "met" meaning death. Shoemaker's pencil drawings are not as dramatic as Trina Schart Hyman's paintings in Barbara Rogasky's similarly formatted Golem: A Version (Holiday House, 1996). However, Watts's retelling is more fluid and not as graphic or violent. While unlikely to attract independent readers, this book would make for a powerful read-aloud and having a child as the narrator provides a different perspective than David Wisniewski's Golem (Clarion, 1996) and Mark Podwal's Golem: A Giant Made of Mud (HarperCollins, 1995).—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
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From Booklist

The legend of the golem, the giant creature who saved the Jews from persecution, is told from the fictionalized viewpoint of Jacob, 13, in 1595 Prague. Jacob’s father, a rabbi, uses magic and river clay to create a huge man who lives with Jacob’s family and guards the gates of the ghetto. The golem has no soul or voice, and although he is a protector, he can also become wild and frightening. Beautiful black-and-white drawings of the sad-faced giant, Jacob’s family, and the ghetto streets illustrate Jacob’s present-tense, first-person narrative, which includes his experiences of virulent anti-Semitism, such as the Blood Lie about Jews making matzos from Christian infants’ blood. Jacob and his family must wear a yellow circle to identify them, and the connections between persecution in the Prague ghetto and similar examples throughout history are clear. The words and pictures leave lots of space for readers to imagine the scenes and events, right up to the ending, which raises a final haunting question: Will the sleeping golem rise up again? Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887768806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887768804
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
A fun and interesting retelling of the tale of the golem that allows the reader a peek into the life of a rabbi in a Jewish ghetto.
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