Is a golem a superhero?
A golem is a figure from Jewish legend and—in this telling—a giant who’s more powerful than a locomotive. In the opening pages of this picture book, the narrator, a Jewish immigrant boy arriving in America from Europe, gives his golem a sort of superhero credo: “The creature had one purpose only: To protect us!” The only problem is that the boy doesn’t need much protecting. The gang of kids chasing him turns out to be a baseball team looking for a new player. The golem ends up working odd jobs: ice cream man, construction worker. It’s as if Superman stayed in Smallville and fought jaywalkers and cow tippers. Unfortunately, watching a golem do construction work isn’t as funny as it might sound, though the panicked expressions on the other workers’ faces as he joins them on a narrow girder in midair are mildly hilarious. Lumer’s pictures are enormously expressive, and his technique is both spectacular and utterly peculiar. If Al Hirschfeld had done chalk drawings, they would have looked like this. (The skin tones are sadly monochrome, though. All the characters are white, except in large crowd scenes.) If some jokes don’t work, the story ends on a perfect—and very American—superhero moment, with the golem knocking a baseball “[w]aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out” of the park.
The Justice League could do worse than to have this golem as a member. (Picture book. 6-9)