Item description for Golem (Caldecott Medal Book) by David Wisniewski...
Overview Retold from traditional sources and accompanied by paper-cut illustrations, the legend of Rabbi Loew, who shapes a giant man of clay--a golem--and brings him to life to defend the Jews of Prague from their persecutors, reveals the consequences of unleashing power beyond human control.
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 Jews. A Caldecott Medal Book.
Awards and Recognitions Golem (Caldecott Medal Book) by David Wisniewski has received the following awards and recognitions -
Caldecott Medal - 1997 Winner - Picture Book category
Citations And Professional Reviews Golem (Caldecott Medal Book) by David Wisniewski has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2010 page 217
Publishers Weekly - 10/21/1996 page 83
Kirkus Review - Children - 09/15/1996 page 1410
School Library Journal - 10/01/1996 page 142
Booklist - 10/01/1996 page 335
New York Times - 11/10/1996 page 44
ALA Notable Childrens Books - 01/01/1997 page 1302
Hornbook Guide to Children - 07/01/1996 page 106
Booklist Ed Choice Youth - 01/01/1997 page 766
Wilson Children's Catalog 96 - 01/01/1997 page 20
Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2001 page 135
Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2006 page 164
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Studio: Clarion Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.32" Width: 9.52" Height: 0.34" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Oct 18, 1996
Publisher Clarion Books
ISBN 0395726182 ISBN13 9780395726181 UPC 046442726184
Availability 0 units.
More About David Wisniewski
David Wisniewski (wiz-NESS-key) was born in Middlesex, England, in 1953. After training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he spent three years as a clown, designing and constructing his own props, costumes, and gags. He was subsequently hired by his future wife, Donna, as a performer with a traveling puppet theatre. Married six months later, the Wisniewskis started their own troupe, Clarion Shadow Theatre, specializing in shadow puppetry. In the course of creating the plays, puppets, and projected scenery, Mr. Wisniewski evolved the storytelling techniques and art skills that eventually led to his picture books with their unique cut-paper illustrations. His retelling of GOLEM was awarded the 1997 Caldecott Medal. David Wisniewski died in 2002 in the Maryland home he shared with his wife and two children.
David Wisniewski currently resides in Monrovia, in the state of Maryland.
David Wisniewski has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Golem (Caldecott Medal Book)?
The darker side of folk tales May 10, 2008
It is a truly sad thing that we don't have more "kiddie" books like this anymore, something that can really be called a work of art with a story that has a history to it. Call me a sucker for all the old folklore, but hey, they have been around along enough that the history has to say something for their deep coolness.
Beyond telling a basic, fluffy story, this book takes on the load of culture and religion to tell an incredible tale of, well, a golem (not the freak of Tolkien, the actual legendary monster made of an inanimate material). Rather along the line of the "Frankenstein phobia" the story is rather scary--but pleasantly so. Yeah, it's a contradition, but this is a good scary story that still teaches a lesson, albeit a archaic lesson. But hey, so much the better.
The art is also incredibly cool and you will quickly see why it won its award.
Sanitized Mar 31, 2007
The author has sanitized and de-Judaized the legend. For example, he has changed the original inscription on the golem's forehead, a mystical Name of God that actually infuses life into the image, to "emet," which means truth. A nice enough word, but hardly sufficient to breathe life into clay. The result is an OK children's story, but without the richness and meaning of the legend. Read I.B. Singer's version instead.
a little intense for the younger ones - a poingant and moving story Jan 2, 2007
The tale of the Golem of Prague was told me by my Bohemian grandmother when I was a little boy, so I was pleased to find Wisniewski's book. The cut-paper art is magnificent, giving an almost 3-D perspective to it. However, the story itself is a bit intense for those under 5.
The golem, for those not familar with the story, was a man made of clay to protect the Jews of Prague from anti-Semites. Eventually it grew out of control, and had to be destroyed. It therefore deals with some pretty adult themes: intolerance, violence, death.
The deeper meanings of the story: that it is far better to be tolerant of others, that violence is not a good way to resolve disputes, and that we (like the Golem) will one day return to dust will probably be over the heads of the very young; the book does provide an opportunity to discuss these themes with older children, however.
It is a beautiful book, and the story is a good one - give its themes consideration before purchasing.
Poignant Dec 20, 2005
This is one of my favorite books. Exquisite. Although intended as a "children's" book--the stunning artwork is geared toward youth--the deceptively simple story is probably better appreciated by adults. This is the inspiration behind all the Frankenstein, android, robot, purpose of life tales. What does it mean to be "alive?" How do we reconcile a belief in god with mortality? Because of this the story can be disturbing, for the moral seems to be that we are but instruments whose life may be ended by the creator when our purpose is finished. The golem, purpose be damned, stops to watch a sunrise.
In a sense then, the golem story embodies one of the most troubling questions of humanity: why would the beauty of life, once gifted to us, be taken away? As the golem pleads to Rabbi Loew, "life is so precious to me."
The book is not long, but the pages are large and quality prints, allowing one to appreciate the detail of Wisniewski's cut-outs. The Caldecott was well deserved. There is also a short historical overview at the end the explains the context in which the legends emerged as well providing some recommended reading and drawing an interesting connection between the modern state of Israel and the golem.
Sad and Somber Dec 7, 2005
Golem is a unique retelling of an old myth in Prague. In the year 1580 many people in Prague believed that the Jews were doing terrible things...like drinking the blood of missing children. Locked away and left defenseless, one great Jewish leader named Rabbi Loew used his vast knowledge of the Cabala to create a giant. This giant, named Golem, was created for one purpose only...to protect the Jews from harm. Once the Jews are no longer threatened Golem will become the lump of clay he was to begin with. Golem proves himself to be a very able defender...but there is one big problem. Golem is growing even bigger and becoming harder to control. The emperor of Prague finally promises safety to the Jews, but only if Golem is destroyed. Golem, however, doesn't want to die. He enjoys flowers and sunrises and passionately begs his "father" not to destroy him. The pictures in this book are very powerful and profound. The dramatic illustrations that this book displays add to the intensity of the story.