by David Wisniewski

Book, 1996



Call number

E 500 WIS



New York : Clarion Books, c1996.


A saintly rabbi miraculously brings to life a clay giant who helps him watch over the Jews of sixteenth-century Prague.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jessotto
This is actually kind of a sad story to read. It was sad to read about how Rabbi Loew constructed Golem to protect the Jewish people, but told him he could only remain alive until the Jewish people were no longer in danger. Once the Jewish people are safe, Golem begs and begs to remain alive
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because life is so beautiful. This story ends with Golem being destroyed and he returns back to clay in the end even after asking to be left to live. Super neat illustrations in the story, it almost looks like it was made from torn paper, I've never seen illustrations quite like this- quite unique. I liked the story but it was kind of sad, I'm not sure I would read it to students but could be appropriate to introduce Judaism.
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LibraryThing member tiburon
An ancient Jewish folktale about how the ostracized and endangered jews of 16th century Prague defeated enemies by using a huge giant made from clay, "Golem."
LibraryThing member KellyKnox
David Wisniewski uses gorgeous overlaid paper-cut images to illustrate the story of Golem. According to Jewish lore, Golem was a giant man created out of clay by Rabbi Loew to protect the persecuted Jews of Prague in 1580. Golem comes to life, but with his protection comes great destruction, and
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Rabbi Loew returns him to the earth from which he was created.

The illustrations are the primary draw in this book. Wisniewski has created some truly beautiful images, with a really unique almost 3-D feeling. The book also provides a fascinating look into Jewish culture. The story is explained further in the back of the book, and the author also explains some of the Jewish terms used in the text and gives a brief history of the persecution of Jews.

Golem would only really be appropriate for older readers. The imagery and the details of the horrors that the Jews faced could be terrifying for younger readers. Older readers would also be more interested in the details, especially Jewish readers, or readers who are interested in learning about ancient Jewish folklore.

I highly recommend Golem for those demographics, I think it is unusual and fascinating.
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LibraryThing member esterlin
Ages 5 to 8
Artistic Media: cut paper
Artistic Style: graphic
LibraryThing member kkcrossley
A rabbi living in a walled ghetto hated and living in fear of persecution in Prague in the 1600's fashions a golem out of clay to protect the Jewish people until a time when it is no longer necessary. Once alive the golem wants to stay that way. The golem protects the village while causing much
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death and destruction. The people of Prague say they will leave the Jews alone if the golem is sent back to clay. The rabbi complys and the Golem rests in the clay until he is needed again to proctect the Jewish people.
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LibraryThing member Sarah21123
Golem is a book that is not for little children. The book is a medieval legend, which can come across as scary to young readers. The book displays a love tangle of families, including Jewish ties.
LibraryThing member savannah.julian
A Jewish folk tale that tells the story of Golem, a giant man made of of clay that Rabbi Loew creates to protect the Jews of Prague in 1580. Golem can only live until the Jews are safe again.

The illustrations are the best part of this book. The illustrator Wisniewski has created some amazing
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images by cutting paper with such detail it looks unreal. The book does provides a great look into Jewish culture, but I think the story might be a little frightening for young readers.
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LibraryThing member jllwlsh
The cut paper renderrings of the Golem and other imagery fits perfectly with the stark nature of the story. At times frightening, this is a classic story and Caldecott Winning retelling. I would suggest knowing one's audience before entering it into the classroom, as certain young students are
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easily scared by such dark and spooky pictures.
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LibraryThing member kristenpittenger
I enjoyed this tale, but was really struck by the author's note included in the back. Because I do not have a lot of background with religious tales, I had a hard time connecting the tale to my life and finding ways for it to make sense to me. The history shared by the author in the back really
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helped me make sense of the story. In fact, I went back and reread it. Too bad the author did not place those notes in the front!
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LibraryThing member JanaRose1
In 16th century Prague, rumors that the Jews are sacrificing gentile children begin to spread. As a result, the populous begin targeting and harming the Jews. Renowned scholar Rabbi Loew creates a clay Golem to protect his people from harm. The Golem begins by tracking down those spreading the
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rumors and targeting Jews and turning them over to the authorities. However, when the gates of the ghetto are stormed, the Golem grows to enormous height and violently defeats them. The stark illustrations are powerfully created and convey a sense of the morals of good and evil, right and wrong. This book is wonderfully written and illustrated, making it extremely appealing to younger children.
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LibraryThing member CarolyneBegin
This is a great retelling of a well known Jewish tale. When faced with prejudice and hate a Rabbi decides that it is time to create Golem to protect them. Once he had served his purpose the Rabbi destroys him and he is returned to the clay from which he came. It is a tale of the power of people and
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the power of God.
The art is a collage of cut paper that is wonderful to look at and really adds to the familiar story. The colors used, although limited, reflect the earth and are perfect for the story.
I also liked the informative page at the end of the book explaining the history behind the story and what it means to the Jewish people.
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LibraryThing member fatlamb
This book grabbed my attention due to the title, but I thought this book was about another Golem, the Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Not disappointed one bit at all. The artwork is stunning (Caldecott Winner) with cut out paper. I enjoyed this book on many levels, one is on a personal level, I have
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been fortunate enough to spend time in Prague and visit the Prague Jewish Ghetto. I had no idea what this was book about and I am glad to have read this book. The story deals with pain, suffering, hate, and persecution (unfortunately how little has changed today). There is no mention or citation of the oringal source for this tale in the book but the author does provide a very informative and detailed "A Note" in the back of the book. The plot is simple and to the point... Jews living in the 16th century have been getting persecuted for their belief, a Rabi creates Golem to protect them, and than the Rabi must destroy Golem once his job is done. The language used is very Jewish I suppose, Jewish names, Jewish words, etc... are used in the book. The illustrations do add to the story, they are beautiful but grim, dark, and pain is seen in the artwork. I believe this story does stick to and represent its cultural norms and is not written to conform to Western mores.
Ages 5th grade and up (if students are familar with Jewish History/Customs could be used for 2nd grade and up)
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LibraryThing member raizel
cut paper illustrations were photographed by Lee Salsbery.
LibraryThing member jmcneal
The story of the book was a little boring. I feel like I am fairly educated on the myth of the golem, and while this book did hold true, I feel like it could have done more to entertain the readers. The art was okay. I didn't see anything that stood out for me, but I have definitely seen much worse.
LibraryThing member pbrent
Golem is the retelling of a rather dark and political Jewish myth of oppression and triumph. Wisniewski uses an interesting artistic style, a sort of layered bas relief, in his images. The story has historical implications and could be used in a social studies classroom or world history classroom
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as a way to explore Jewish culture.
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LibraryThing member marciaskidslit
The story of Golem originates from a Jewish legend. Golem was created by man to protect the persecuted people imprisoned in the ghetto of Prague. The legend tells that Golem grew too big, too strong, misused his powers, and eventually turned into a monster. For this reason he was destroyed by the
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man who created him. Most impressive about this book are the illustrations. The illustrations were executed in Color-aid, Coral, and Bark cut papers. The text is set in 16/20-point Dante medium. The illustrations are haunting and may be a bit scary for younger children. The author uses deep, dark, rich colors. The book itself is large at 29 cm--this helps to depict Golem's size as he and his powers grow. Golem is a 1997 Caldecott Award winner.
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LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
Exceptional children's history book relating the cautionary / legendary tale of the golem of Prague which was raised from clay by Rabbi Loew to protect the Jews of Prague.
LibraryThing member Meg_Harrison
The art is cut and torn paper, similar to Eric Carle. Golem is based on a mystical Caballah legend about a creature who was brought to life by a Rabbi to protect the Jewish people in eastern europe. This is definitely not a story for youngsters--the images and words are spooky and remind me of
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Frankenstein's monster!
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LibraryThing member brandonachey
This book was vey interesting on many levels. It presented a story that had many layers of legend and folklore while also taking place in a historical setting. The central theme of this book is life and its value. The main character of the story, Golem, is a mass of clay brought to life and is
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immediately given the purpose of protecting the Jews. However, after he completes his task and has done everything he was told he does not want to die. Even though his life had meaning and purpose he still finds that continuing to live has more value than anything else. I think that is what makes this story so interesting and beautiful.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When the Jews of Prague are falsely accused of a terrible crime, and threatened with mob violence, their wise and learned leader, the Rabbi Loew ben Bezalel, makes the difficult decision to create a golem - a man formed from clay or sand, and brought to life through arcane cabbalistic ritual - to
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protect them. Although the golem - soon clothed in human garb, and given the name "Joseph" - does what is asked of him, in tracking down those who would plant false evidence, and fending off those who would attack the Jewish ghetto, it soon becomes apparent, from the questions he asks about himself, and his place in the world, that whatever the motives involved, bringing him to life was a dangerous undertaking, and an awesome responsibility. When the emperor, finally convinced of the Jews' innocence, and intimidated by the power of the golem, extends his protection to Prague's Jewish community, the rabbi, ignoring his creation's pleas for life, returns him to clay.

Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1997, this outstanding picture-book pairs a powerful retelling of the Jewish folktale of the Golem of Prague with brilliantly detailed cut-paper artwork. The language used by Wisniewski is mature, as are the themes of the story itself, making Golem a picture-book better suited for slightly older children. I appreciated the fact that the narrative did not skip over the moral complexity of the golem's violence - even thought the Jews are threatened, the rabbi thinks, at one point, that the golem's violence is simply too much - or of his creation exclusively for human use. The scene in which he is returned to inert matter has a sharp poignancy that would have haunted me, I suspect, had I read this as a girl. The artwork is just as amazing as the text - dark, mesmerizing, and often quite frightening! I think Wisniewski's work in Sundiata: Lion King of Mali was superior - oddly enough, that title received no honors - but this was still superb!

All in all, an excellent picture-book retelling of this important nineteenth-century legend, one that has influenced so many subsequent literary efforts, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Elizabeth Knox's New Zealand fantasies, Dreamhunter and Dreamquake. Those looking for other, more extensive retellings might also want to check out Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Golem (illustrated by Uri Shulevitz), or Elie Wiesel's The Golem (illustrated by Mark Podwal).
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LibraryThing member ZacWoodruff
This is actually kind of a sad story to read. It was sad to read about how Rabbi Loew constructed Golem to protect the Jewish people, but told him he could only remain alive until the Jewish people were no longer in danger. Once the Jewish people are safe, Golem BEGS to remain alive because life is
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so beautiful but he is destroyed and returned back to only clay in the end despite his pleas. :( Very neat illustrations in the story, it almost looks like it was comprised of torn paper and has a 3d overlay look to it.
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LibraryThing member dukefan86
Fascinating illustrations, and interesting story. It may be a bit scary for younger kids, but older children, it's an interesting legend in Jewish history.
LibraryThing member llpollac
In 16th century Prague, Rabbi Judah Lowe ben Bezalel uses the Cabala to create Joseph the Golem, a servant made out of clay, to protect the city's Jews against spreaders of the Blood Lie. "Golem", the winner of the 1997 Caldecott Medal, features amazing cut-paper illustrations which perfectly
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complement the text of the book, both illustrating the action and creating a dark, mythic mood. This retelling of a traditional Jewish folk story does not whitewash or dumb down the legend at all, explaining both the contents of the blood libel and detailing the Cabalistic process used to first create and then destroy the Golem. For this reason, this book is not recommended for very young readers. However, students in the intermediate grades through middle school will find it a fascinating read, especially those with Jewish heritage or who are lovers of folklore or historical fiction. An detailed author's note at the back explains the historical context of the Golem legend, the sources used to create this tale, and later reflections of the Golem legend. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Phill242
Caldecott winner, 1997
Rabbi Loew shapes man of clay (golem) to protect the Jews
LibraryThing member gfurth
In 16th Century Prague the Jews needed protecting. Rabbi Loew used the mystical powers of Cabbalah to create Golem, a giant made from clay and brought to life. This book brings to life, through amazing cut-out illustrations, the legend of Golem.

Original publication date



0395726182 / 9780395726181
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