by Helaine Becker #ownvoices, illustrated by Vero Navarro
Green Bean Books
Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Kathy Bloomfield
Buy at Bookshop.org
This book is a younger middle grade version of the graphic novel, Gottika, published in 2014 for older readers. Based on the Golem legend and set in a dystopian future, this is the story of Dany and his family and their life as Stoons in Gottika. The Stoons are oppressed by the Gottikins. Stoons are made to wear red berets when they leave their homes. They are physically, verbally, and economically abused, are under a strict curfew, and live in a walled off part of the city (the favala.) There are many obvious parallels to Jewish life in Nazi Germany. This is a wild story filled with deceit, betrayal, mystery and redemption. There are a few graphic novel style illustrations in the book.
When “the Troubles” come, Dany’s father, Reb Judah, returns to his magician roots and creates a man out of clay – a Gol. As in the legend, the Gol protects the Scoons. A vast web of secrets and lies is uncovered which bring the story to a satisfying end.
Throughout the story, there are constant references to Jewish tradition: Jewish prayers (“Who by Stone…Who by Fire”), Jewish ritual (“a week of mourning”), Torah teachings (Tikkun Olam/repairing the world), and much more. However, the future setting reflects some interesting modifications to those traditions as a result of being handed down over generations. While well-researched and clearly presented, it may be difficult for a child unfamiliar with these traditions to discern exactly what is being talked about. Nevertheless, this is a very engaging, exciting, and entertaining read for young Fantasy and Sci-Fi fans.
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