Golem (Caldecott Medal Book) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-07-08 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 42 user ratings

" 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. " said.

" Set in Prague in the 1500's, a rabbi of threatened Jews brings a clay guardian to life to protect the Jews. " said.

" I read this as a young girl and it made a very deep impression. A masterfully told and ultimately bittersweet story about ethics and what it means to be human. " said.

" 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! " said.

"While I definitely much appreciate both the historical and the religious background of David Wisiniewski's Golem (and can in all ways understand how and why he won the Caldecott Medal for his expressive and intense, colourful, evocative illustrations, illustrations that are bold, immediate, emotion-laden and very much both a mirror to and an expansion of the narrative, of the accompanying text), I also do not really and cannot really claim that I all that much enjoy Golem as a tale in and of itself (and it is actually more the illustrations than the printed words I find potentially too frightening and almost too intense in nature, although even with regard to the text, there are issues presented and shown that I find problematatic and open to question, and as such not really all that suitable or even approachable for children below the ages of seven or eight, perhaps even nine or ten).

As very much an adamant pacifist, the message that violence is necessary to combat violence or the threat of violence (via means of the super-strong and supernatural monster-like Golem), while to a point definitely understandable from a historical and realistic point of view (the Jews of Prague were in peril, were being relentlessly and with brutality and lies persecuted without mercy) also leaves me rather majorly uncomfortable, although I do appreciate that Rabbi Loew does recognise that what he has created, that what he has called forth has caused, is causing much too much danger and destruction, all important and even necessary points for discussion, analysis and debate, but are these here themes not perhaps somewhat above and beyond the traditional picture book crowd (not to mention that the Golem, that Joseph, after he has served his purpose, it simply destroyed, even though life has become precious to him, a necessary act perhaps, but also sad and even infuriating and really, inherently unfair and unjust in many ways).

That being said, and my issues with the level of textual savagery and the possible over-intensiveness of the accompanying illustrations notwithstanding, I do highly recommend Golem and find especially David Wisniewski's informative supplemental note exceedingly well researched, informative, simply and utterly outstanding (although the hopeless academic in me would have enjoyed and also kind of missed a bibliography, list of works cited and suggestions for further reading). And please do note that while I personally tend to think that Golem is not really all that suitable for children below at least the ages of seven or eight, that is my own feeling, my own reaction to the text/image combination, and I would NEVER in any way desire to impose this attitude on others (I just know that if I had had Golem read to me as a younger child, I would more than likely have had nightmares and a great many potentially uncomfortable questions, such as for example, if the danger faced by the Jews of 16th century Prague was dire enough to call forth the Golem, why was the Golem then not called forth during the Holocaust).
" said.

" 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. " said.

" 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. " said.

" 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. " said.

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