Wisniewski, David (1996). Golem. New York: Clarion Books.

This story tells the Tale of Jewish Rabbi Loew who creates a Golem character to save the Jews of Prague from oppression.

Genre: Legend

Grade: 4th-8th

Readers who would like this book: Children who enjoy “dark” stories, children who enjoy history, children who enjoy legends

Rating and Response:5; This story is a truly compelling one, and the combination of the illustrations and text could not be more perfect. Although I think that this story could be a little frightening or dramatic for young ones due to its solid emphasis on good and evil, I think that the gray area provided by the Golem character can teach children a valuable lesson. This book won the Caldecott Honor in 1997 for illustration, and it could not be more deserving! Some of the major criteria used to determine this award are as follows, and I think that Golem fits them all.

  1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
  2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
  4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
  5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience

The paper collage like depictions of the tale are fabulous and truly do fulfill all of the above criteria.

Question: What is oppression? Why does oppression happen?

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