Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrations by Vero Navarro
Price: £9.99 / $12.99
A compelling illustrated story for middle-grade readers set in a vividly imagined fictional world.
Weaves together fantasy, Jewish folklore and global human history, primarily the legend of the golem.
Tells a universal story about human rights, justice and standing up against oppression and corruption in all forms.
12 year-old Dany lives with his father, the scholarly Rob Judah, and his silent mother Rachel in the Stoon ghetto on the outskirts of Gottika. Under the ruthless Count Pol, the Stoon community are subject to military raids, prejudicial laws and restrictions on their culture and freedom. When Pol marries Dany’s cousin Dalil to stoke further tension between Gottikans and Stoons, life gets harder still. Urged on by Dany, Rob Judah finally runs out of patience. Something must be done.
One night, Rob Judah breaks curfew and goes down to the river. Dany follows and secretly watches as his father invokes illegal Stoon magic to raise a creature, in human form, from the mud. The Gol comes to live with the family and becomes the invincible protector of the Stoons. He foils plots, prevents violence against them, and starts to bring hope and happiness back to Dany’s family. But then Rob Judah is framed for a brutal murder and thrown in Pol’s dungeon. Now it is Dany’s time to act.
With the help of Moishe, Dalil and a wolf/dog hybrid named Khan, Dany sets out to save his father and defeat Pol once and for all. Along the way, he uncovers shocking family secrets, learns where Pol’s vicious hatred of the Stoons comes from and he is gifted with an understanding of the sacred mysteries of life itself.
Compelling, clever and full of twists and turns, Gottika reimagines the powerful Golem legend as a futuristic fantasy with a universal message.
Helaine Becker is the bestselling author of more than 90 books for children and young adults, including the #1 Canadian national bestseller A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic Canada) and the international bestseller Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (Henry Holt). Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into ten languages. A New York native, Helaine has lived in Toronto, Canada for more than 20 years.
Vero Navarro is a full time freelance illustrator, based in Valencia, Spain. She loves the creative challenge of editorial works and has lengthy experience as book artist, both for covers and internal artwork but creative portraits are arguably her favourite kind of commission. When she’s not illustrating, she can either be found wandering around nature or instagramming her cat’s daily shenanigans.
“Iconic elements of Jewish persecution give this story a historical grounding as well as a depth. The cues open up a space for conversation about travesties that have taken place while also encouraging readers to immerse themselves in a space of injustice and to read a story of the disenfranchised.” – Jeunesse
“Lovers of fantasy, myths and legends, action comics, a hero’s quest, and even Dungeons and Dragons fans will want to keep reading late into the night. And this story will continue to resonate the morning after.” – National Reading Campaign
“Gol’s strength, and his story are the real soul of this novel, and I was fascinated watching this traditional Jewish folk story come to life.” 4 stars – Mabel’s Fables Raves and Faves
“An excellent addition to a high school reader’s collection.” – Jewish Book Council
Gottika is the perfect mashup that results in a great read; one that kept me awake until I turned the last page.” – Sheryl McFarlane
“A compelling read. Recommended.” – CM Magazine
“Becker presents the harsh treatment of an ethnic group in a way children will be able to understand and question.” – Quill and Quire
‘Becker’s compelling story of a young boy, Dany, and his fight against authoritarian terror raises issues of courage, complicity, and Jewish identity. By creating a fictional, but still recognizably Jewish, culture in her novel, Becker both universalizes her story and affirms that Jewish suffering and resistance to oppression are at its core…. author and illustrator have infused new life into the story of the golem, animating him once more with perceptiveness and depth.’ Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council