A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Main message that the persecuted should fight their persecuters is fine; sadly, though, the rabbi must destroy the Golem when he has finished helping.
Violence & Scariness
Illustrations are scary and violent (dark, jagged) as Frankenstein-like giant destroys the attacking mob with his bare hands; though the message is triumphant.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that though this book won the Caldecott Medal in 1997, usually reserved for lighter picture books, it contains images that may frighten young children. Also, the story, which is an adaptation of a medieval legend, may unsettle them. It discusses the persecution of the Jews in Prague and shows the violent way the Golem dispatches enemies. More sophisticated readers will find the book more captivating and inspiring, though still somewhat distressing, especially when the Golem is destroyed.
Is It Any Good?
The multi-layered cut-paper illustrations of GOLEM are magnificent, and are a good enough reason to own this book. They're definitely the reason it won the Caldecott medal in 1997. The pages with the intricately cut clouds and mist are particularly impressive. Throughout, David Wisniewski has manipulated Color-Aid, coral, and bark paper to create this haunting adaptation of this somewhat scary and sad Jewish legend.
The story here has been simplified, which makes it more accessible to young readers. However, they may not be the appropriate audience. Readers should be old enough to learn about the persecution of the Jews, accept that a man (even the holiest of rabbis) could create a giant from clay, understand why the giant was heroic for his violent overthrow of the oppressors, and most importantly, get why the rabbi has to return the Golem to earth even as the monster pleads, like a child to his father, that he wants to live. Readers who are ready for this story might be better served by Isaac Bashevis Singer's longer, more complete, and richer version, also called The Golem.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate