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Golem Paperback – November 19, 2007
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Elaborately composed cut-paper spreads give a 3D, puppet-show-like quality to a retelling of a Jewish legend. Rabbi Loew has a prophetic vision in 1580 when the Jews of Prague are accused of mixing the blood of Christian children into matzoh: he must create a Golem, "a giant of living clay, animated by Cabala, mystical teachings of unknown power." Brought to life with apocalyptic explosions of steam and rain, the Golem seeks out the perpetrators of the Blood Lie and turns them over to the authorities. Thwarted, the enraged enemies of the Jews storm the gates of the ghetto, but the Golem grows to enormous height and violently defeats them with their own battering ram. Once his work is done, he pitifully (and futilely) begs the Rabbi: "Please let me live! I did all that you asked of me! Life is so... precious... to me!" Wisniewski (The Wave of the Sea Wolf) emphasizes the Golem's humanity and the problems with his existence; instead of reducing the legend to a tale of a magical rescuer, the author allows for its historical and emotional complexity. The fiery, crisply layered paper illustrations, portraying with equal drama and precision the ornamental architecture of Prague and the unearthly career of the Golem, match the specificity and splendor of the storytelling. An endnote about the history and influence of the legend is particularly comprehensive. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The golem, for those not familar with the story, was a man made of clay to protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semites. Eventually it grew out of control, and had to be destroyed. It therefore deals with some pretty adult themes: intolerance, violence, death.
The deeper meanings of the story: that it is far better to be tolerant of others, that violence is not a good way to resolve disputes, and that we (like the Golem) will one day return to dust will probably be over the heads of the very young; the book does provide an opportunity to discuss these themes with older children, however.
It is a beautiful book, and the story is a good one - give its themes consideration before purchasing.