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Golem

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  2,276 ratings  ·  271 reviews
Retold from traditional sources and accompanied by David Wisniewski's unique cut-paper illustrations, Golem is a dramatic tale of supernatural forces invoked to save an oppressed people. It also offers a thought-provoking look at the consequences of unleashing power beyond human control. The afterword discusses the legend of the golem and its roots in the history of the Je ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 18th 1996 by Clarion Books (first published January 28th 1996)
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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. KimmelGolem by David WisniewskiThe Keeping Quilt by Patricia PolaccoSomething From Nothing by Phoebe GilmanEdelweiss Pirates ‘Operation Einstein' by Mark A. Cooper
Jewish Children's Books
2nd out of 46 books — 47 voters
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Caldecott Medal Winners
53rd out of 78 books — 300 voters


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Community Reviews

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karen
This Caldecott Honor book draws upon Jewish mythology to tell to the story of the persecution of the Jews in Prague in 1580. The Jews were forced to live in a walled ghetto and were accused of killing Christian babies and using their blood for their ancient rituals. The chief rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, creates a golem out of clay to protect the Jewish people. As the golem spends more time alive, it begins to acquire a human yearning for life. The golem, however, was only created to protect ...more
Kathryn
Apr 23, 2012 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I strongly caution parents of young/sensitive children to preread
Four stars for talent, though I did not "like" this story.

This is a powerful, deeply disturbing "cautionary tale about the limits of human power." It also shows the cruelty of man, and the dangers of believing rumors. I really don't feel equal to writing a review of this story.

On the one hand, I admire the obvious talent in the (Caldecott Medal-winning) illustrations and the author's note at the end enhances the story, helping explain about Jewish religion and history for those who might be ign
...more
Ronyell
“Golem” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by David Wisniewski which is about how the Jews are being persecuted because of the “blood lie” and how Rabbi Loew tries to figure out a way to save the Jews by building a Golem! “Golem” is a great and dark story that might please older children and adults, but it will definitely scare smaller children who do not understand the book’s mature content.

David Wisniewski has done a brilliant job at writing and illustrating this book. David Wisniewski’s
...more
Dolly
Mar 13, 2009 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is the second book I read about the "Golem," and the first one that I've read to our girls. The first book, by Elie Wiesel, matched this story very closely, but didn't have illustrations, and I think it was a little too scary for younger kids. This one was also a little scary, perhaps, but I tried to give it a dramatic reading that made it more exciting, less real, and not so scary. Our girls weren't overly excited about the book, but I thought it was great. The illustrations were wonderful ...more
Cheryl
Amazing, powerful illustrations. The story of the Golem wanting to see a sunset and to live is heartbreaking, resembling a classic tragedy. Gracefully written, not too long for the older children who are, after all, the ones who will appreciate it more than the tots, and terrific author's note that explained a lot to me, even though I've read several other books about Golems.

I'd be careful sharing this with children who don't know much about Jewish identity & their struggles, though, because
...more
Randie
This book is not the traditional myth but more of a Jewish tradition or as Wisniewski suggests a cautionary tale. I must admit that I know bits and pieces of the Jewish religion but am not familiar enough to pick up on all the significant references and meanings in this book.

There was a time when there was hatred present between all the religions. The Jews were attacked more viciously and were even made to live in ghettos. The Golem, a large strong, simple, giant was summoned from clay to protec
...more
Andrew
While 'Golem' is presented as a children's book it is really a great read for any age. Presenting the tale of the golem in a manner that even children can comprehend and follow, this book is simply wonderful. I would like to start by mentioning the art by David Wisniewski because it is beautiful. Use of shadows and lines help to create the atmosphere of foreboding and fear that the Jews of Prague in this story would have felt. I would like to see more of his work. As for the story itself Mr. Wis ...more
Michelle Pegram
When the Jews in Prague are in danger due to a lie about their using the blood of Christina children in their unleavened bread, one rabbi, fearing approaching violence, seeks guidance through prayer. He is answered with one word: Golem. Only a righteous man using mystical teachings and power could create this giant of clay, which is what the rabbi does. Golem is tasked with the protection of the Jews and the thwarting of those who would plant evidence of the "blood lie." Even though he knows tha ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I've always liked stories about the Golem, and Wisnewski's detailed papercuttings fascinate me. Combine the two, and you've got an award-winning book.
Chantal
David Wisniewski’s 1997 Caldecott Award winner, Golem, recounts the experience of Jews in 16th century Prague (Czech Republic). Retold from traditional rabbinic sources such as that of Cabala the Talmud, and the Zohar, Wisniewski creates a compelling visual and historical narrative of persecution and the dangers inherent in assuming God-like power. The antagonism of the cut-paper illustrations, the contrasts in the dark palette, and the variety of eye paths and angles, create tension, advance th ...more
Snorkle
Ugh, I did not care for this story at all. It was not something that I would want young children reading, for it mixed the fantasy world closely with reality, almost blending them together, and I can easily see a child becoming confused and not knowing the different between the two. The illustrations were pretty unique, but some pictures were a little gruesome/creepy. I would not recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...
Jaylyn
Personal Reaction- This book is very, very interesting. It is covered in Jewish tradition and ideologies. It was a very fun read with good pictures. It kept me entertained and also enlightened in the Jewish culture.

Purpose- This book would be a good book to read if you knowingly have Jewish students in a classroom. I believe that it is very important to have different cultures in the classroom. The book uses supernatural powers which can give students the entertainment factor. It also deal with
...more
Cheyenne Gribbins
This book is about s rabbi who creates a golem (Joseph) to protect the Jews from harm. Joseph is a huge giant who listens to the orders of the rabbi. When a riot breaks out, Joseph kills all of the people storming through the gates to hurt the Jews. After this incident, the emperor directs the rabbi to return Joseph back to clay. Joseph is upset because life is precious to him, and is then turned to clay and stored beneath books in the church attic. The afterword is an explanation of Golems, and ...more
Stephanie Winchester
Golem was written by David Wisniewski and won a Caldecott award in 1997 for the illustrations. This book is about a rabbi who turns clay into a giant, which is also known as Golem. In this book, the giant is brought to life so that he can stop the persecution of Jews by the Christians in 1580 in the city of Prague. This book is a tale about an oppressed people who tried everything to fight back. In this novel, Wisniewski uses a cut paper technique to illustrate his novel. The illustrations repre ...more
Sarah
I rarely give a book 5 stars, but this one deserves it. The unique story, fully-formed characters and the twists and turns of the plot make for an incredible book. I love a book that makes you think about your own life while immersed in the characters' lives. I highly recommend this one.
Barbara
The stunning illustrations, created with Color-Aid, Coral, and bark-cut papers, are vivid testimony to why this picture book won the Caldecott Medal in 1997. The story centers around sixteenth century Prague as Jews are suffering reprisals from their enemies as the result of stories accusing them of using the blood of Christians in their rituals. A rabbi decides to fashion a man from clay, a golem, to keep the Jews safe. The golem is very good at what he does, and after the Jews are deemed safe ...more
Kirei
This is hard to rate.... The truth is we didn't really like it much. The words have a textbook-y feel to them. However, I think part of the problem is that my six year old is a little young for this book. The vocabulary is difficult and the pictures are scary.

Also, I think we would have appreciated it more if we were Jewish. It uses many Jewish terms, things like Kabbalah.
April Helms
To protect the Jews of Prague, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the chief rabbi, calls forth a Golem. The almost childlike Golem does do its job well, and the Jewish people no longer have to fear for the lives. This book covers a lot of lore and issues in a few short pages. I like the historical afterwards in the back. The illustrations and stark colors are very eye-catching.
Meltha
I'm rather torn over this book. The illustrations are stunning cut-paperwork, and the overall design is beautiful, intricate, and original. The story itself is aimed at a much older audience than a typical picturebook. The imagery would be frightening for small children, and the vocabulary and references would be too complicated. I'd say the intended audience is at least fifth grade if not higher, and the endnote could easily be intended for college. The background of the story, centering on the ...more
Alisha Ptacek
Personal reaction: This book is very interesting and could be used to teach a lesson about the Jewish culture. The book is a very beautiful book and received the Caldecott medal. Besides using the book for a lesson on Jews I could also use the book for a lesson on the illustrations and how they are used in stories, or even just a lesson on folk tales.
Read aloud: I would most likely use this book to teach a religion lesson. Although I plan to teach in a Catholic school I believe that it is also
...more
Sara Shelton
The plot in the story “Golem” by David Wisniewski is about a man who was shaped out of clay by a Rabbi and then the Rabbi brought him to life. The Golem was to vanquish those who persecuted the Jews of Prague and then was later turn back into clay at the end of the story. I particularly don’t know how to rate this book because I loved the artwork, but disliked the storyline. The illustrations in this book were very dark and mysterious which went along with the plot perfectly. Also, the picture c ...more
Sam Gaume
Golem is a good story and touches base on some important topics, but it is very dark and unappealing to kids in my opinion. It shows a lot of the mistreatment of the Jews and their hardships before a Golem is created to fight for them. The Golem is even destroyed in the end making it a grim ending. I enjoyed this book, but I would not include it in a kindergarten classroom. It has too heavy of material for a five or six year old. I do not think oppression of the Jewish people is a topic I will b ...more
Jessica Cain
Summary and Critique:
This picture was my least favorite of all with both the illustrations and the story. The illustrations were very dark and not eye catching to me and the passages were just long and not interesting. That was just my personal view on the book though. The book was about war that was happening during the 1500’s in Prague and the Jews being persecuted. They start thinking of things that could protect them and they use the holy name of God. Golem eventually stops the persecution.
...more
Ann
The illustrations in this book are INSANE. Honestly, maybe the most impressive pictures I've ever seen in a children's book. The story is very interesting, and there is an excellent source note in the back of the book. But the pictures will leave you in awe.
Matthew West
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha Simmons
This story is about Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the town rabbit, can think of nothing more than creating a person out of mud and bringing it to life. Once the Golem stops the persecution, Rabbit Loew erases the letters on the Golem’s head, making the Golem sleep in a dreamless sleep of clay. The illustrations in this book are dark and almost scary and times. I do not think this book would be good for smaller children. the genre and format of this book is a picture book. the reading level of this boo ...more
Andrew Lovell
Golem is the Hebrew word for 'shapeless mass'. Golem was created for one purpose, to protect the Jewish people. He later becomes much more than that, "The sun is rising...The sky changes from black to blue. It is very beautiful". Eventually Golem fulfills his role and the rabbi erases the first letter on his forehead, 'emet'-life...becomes 'met'-death. This story is touching and tragic and has inspired the work of composers and authors. Some evidence is in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. The ...more
Douglas Jankowski
Well I'm going to be honest, for a childrens' book, this was a very complicated story. From the stand point of the illustrations, they were phenomenal. All the art was done by paper cutouts. I know how long and tedious of a task that is, so for that, I gave it two stars, but the story itself was a different story. The reason I say this, is because it was too complex for that of a child's mind. The story had to do with jewish history and their beliefs, and for that they were throwing in hebrew wo ...more
Monica A
This story is a retelling from traditional sources, which speaks of supernatural forces that were meant to save people who were being oppressed. It is a Jewish myth about a Golem who was created to punish the persecutors of the Jewish people. I enjoyed reading the story, but the ending made me a little sad when the Golem was turned to clay though he had a strong desire to live. Overall, it was a great story with great pictures as well. I was surprised that cut-paper illustrations could be so det ...more
Kelly
I liked this book. I did. But I did NOT like the people that I *think* I am supposed to like. And that disturbs me.

I do not like how callously the rabbi discards of the Golem - ignoring his life and humanity in much the same way the people of Prague ignored the humanity of the Jewish people. Yet, he is supposed to be the good guy. Or, at least, I think he is.

The scene where Golem begs for his life is particularly chilling for me.

So, if the author actually wanted me to weep for Golem, then someon
...more
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