Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Golem” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,542 ratings  ·  427 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Golem, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Golem

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,542 ratings  ·  427 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Wow! The artwork is amazing in this book! It is a great story as well.

The artwork is detailed paper cut-outs that are layered and have a 3D look to them. Some of the spreads are incredible and his cuts are so fine and detailed with all kinds of little pieces of grass and people all over the place or little nicks in the paper just right. Absolutely beautiful.

The story is said to be a possibility for the idea of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. The story is set in the 1500s in Prague where the jews
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mark-harmon
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
While I definitely much appreciate both the historical and the religious background of David Wisiniewski's Golem (and can in all ways very much understand how and why he won the Caldecott Medal for his expressively intense, colourful, evocative illustrations, for pictures that are bold, immediate, emotion-laden and very much both a mirror to and often even an expansion of the narrative, of the accompanying printed words), I also do not really and cannot really claim that I all that much enjoy Go ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
I have always been fascinated by the story of the Golem. This retelling of the story is informative and retains the deeper questions of 'Golemic' solutions to violence while still remaining accessible to children.
“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
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Michelle Pegram
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Jodi Ottobre
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Unique illustrations and story. I was kind of sad the ending ended how it did. Perhaps a Golem Returns sequel (hint hint Wisniewski) can redeem it. My husband read this book to me with a Rabi voice so that might have made me love it more.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
The artwork is beautiful, the story a bit too profound for a picture book. Still, a must read for anyone who is interested in the history of Jews in Europe.

1997 Caldecott Medal Winner
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
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
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
The cut-paper illustrations are gorgeous, but I enjoyed the story in Clay Man: The Golem of Prague more. The last page called "A Note" is a great summary reference.
In many European cities, Jews were confined to walled areas called ghettos and locked in at night. Venice banished its Jews to an island where a foundry was located; the word ghetto is derived from the medieval Venetian word geto, "foundry".
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Wisniewski's detailed, intricate cut paper illustrations, and they definitely helped to tell the story. I only found a couple of spreads particularly graphic. I also liked the story and felt sad for the Golem when it was returned to clay form. I appreciated the informational author's note at the end as well.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I did a whole paper on Wisniewski's cut paper illustrations in grad school (the last grad school :-) ) and his art still fascinates me. Probably because I don't have the patience for it! But this story of the Golem is not a "fun" story. It's very thought-provoking--all about power, supernatural assistance, faith.... The Golem is a figure from Jewish legend.
April Helms
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
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:
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
My class of 1-3 graders read and studied Golem this week. The story is set in the late 16th century when Jews in Prague were being persecuted and forced to live in a walled ghetto. A golem was created out of clay to protect the Jews. This story opened up some great dialogue in class about humanity. The illustrations are amazing.
Anna Wilson
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Title: Golem
Author: David Wisniewski
Genre: Legend
Theme(s): Religion, turmoil, perseverance
Opening line/sentence: “Within the beautiful city of Prague, fierce hatreds have raged for a thousand years.”
Brief Book Summary:
This story is about different religions fighting with each other in Prague. The Jewish people were under attack, so to protect themselves the Rabbi crafted a giant from Clay. He was made to protect the Jewish people and once his job was done he had to return back to C
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
While I can appreciate the historical and religious background of the story, the lessons it teaches and the illustrations, I can't say I enjoy this book. Wisniewski is, undoubtedly, a talented artist. I am left feeling disconcerted and troubled after reading the's deeply troubling that Jews have been so mistreated and misunderstood in so many places throughout history. So it's understandable that they would feel the need to protect themselves, hence the creation of the golem by Rabbi L ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a reader, I found this story somewhat interesting. While it is not a subject matter I would normally choose to read about, I am glad I read this book because it did open my eyes a little bit more to violence of the past between Jews and Christians. This book also contained a lot of backstory into the origins of Jewish folklore. I also found this part of the book interesting because it is implied that the monster in the story, Golem, will one day come back.

As a teacher, I can definitely say I
Phil Jensen
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Intense, violent, and morally ambiguous. Wisniewski hits hard right out of the gate with descriptions of anti-Semitism and false accusations of child sacrifice. After that, we get heavy questions about whether violence is justified in the face of racism and what respect for life means. Ultimately, I think the story is about how the Rabbi became tainted by his need to defend himself. Put another way, a racist system forces the oppressed to break their own moral codes.

Wisniewski ends with an autho
Sara Shelton
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
David Goetz
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
Beautiful cut-paper illustrations, a solid and concise story (probably best for 5-8 year-old children), and a nice 11-paragraph note at the end about the Golem legend within the context of Kabbalah and in connection with Rabbit Loew ben Bezalel. Best line was the Rabbi's: "Would a people who celebrate the end of their own slavery wish to inflict slavery on others?"

If you're not Jewish or interested in the legend of the Golem, at least check this one out for the incredible papercutting!
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions
  • Duffy and the Devil
  • Frog Went a-Courtin'
  • Smoky Night
  • Shadow
  • The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
  • The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot July 25, 1909
  • The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles
  • A Story, a Story
  • Always Room for One More
  • Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico
  • Black and White
  • Baboushka and the Three Kings
  • Prayer for a Child
  • Saint George and the Dragon
  • May I Bring a Friend?
  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
  • Song of the Swallows
See similar books…
David R. Wisniewski was an American writer and illustrator best known for children's books.

He attended the University of Maryland, College Park but quit after one semester to join the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, graduating in 1973. He worked for several years as a clown before moving to Maryland and joining the Prince George's Country Puppet Theatre where he met his wi
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »