Science Clay Man: The Golem of Prague

ISBN 13: 9780887768804

Clay Man: The Golem of Prague

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9780887768804: Clay Man: The Golem of Prague

It is 1595, and the rabbi’s son Jacob is frustrated with having to live in the walled ghetto known as Jewish Town. Why can’t he venture outside of the gates and explore the beautiful city? His father warns him that Passover is a dangerous time to be a Jew and that the people from outside accuse the Jews of dreadful deeds. But one night, Jacob follows his father and two companions as they unlock the ghetto gates and proceed to the river, where they mold a human shape from the mud of the riverbank. When the rabbi speaks strange words, the shape is infused with life and the Golem of Prague is born.

In this breathtaking retelling of a timeless tale, Irene N. Watts’s beautiful words are complemented by the haunting black-and-white images of artist Kathryn E. Shoemaker.

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About the Author:

German-born Irene N. Watts is a writer and playwright who has worked throughout Europe and Canada. Her play, “Lillie,” based on her novel Flower, won first prize in UNESCO’s Biennial Playwriting Award. Her novels Good-bye Marianne, Finding Sophie, and Remember Me, have had international acclaim. She makes her home by the sea in Vancouver.

Kathryn E. Shoemaker has illustrated over thirty children’s books and has written four books for teachers. Her work ranges from books, filmstrips, and greeting cards, to posters, calendars, and illustrations and articles for magazines. She is currently working on her doctorate degree. Kathryn Shoemaker lives in Vancouver.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 3–6—This account of the 16th-century legend is narrated by a rabbi's son, Jacob, who is frustrated by expectations that he follow in his father's and older brother's scholarly footsteps. However, everything changes when Jacob and his father dream the same dream and the rabbi creates a large clay man to protect the Jews of Prague. After a few mishaps, Josef, the golem, foils a baker's plan to poison the matzah, prevents a man from planting a child's body in the ghetto to prove that Jews use the blood of Christian children for their Passover preparations, and stops other plots and schemes. When Emperor Rudolf announces that the "Blood Lie" is false, Rabbi Loew is confident that the Jews are no longer in need of the golem's protection. He and Jacob take Josef to the attic of the Old-New Synagogue and change the Hebrew letters on his forehead from "emet" meaning truth to "met" meaning death. Shoemaker's pencil drawings are not as dramatic as Trina Schart Hyman's paintings in Barbara Rogasky's similarly formatted Golem: A Version (Holiday House, 1996). However, Watts's retelling is more fluid and not as graphic or violent. While unlikely to attract independent readers, this book would make for a powerful read-aloud and having a child as the narrator provides a different perspective than David Wisniewski's Golem (Clarion, 1996) and Mark Podwal's Golem: A Giant Made of Mud (HarperCollins, 1995).—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
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