Golem

David Wisniewski, Author
David Wisniewski, Author Clarion Books $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-72618-1
Reviewed on: 10/21/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-618-89424-6
Prebound-Sewn - 28 pages - 978-0-606-15636-3
Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-76931-8
Open Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-53179-3
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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. (Oct.)
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