Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World

S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2022. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665905022.
Gr 3-7–With just a few weeks until her bat mitzvah, 12-year-old Naomi receives a mysterious box from an unknown sender. Inside is a small clay figurine identified as the Golem, which Naomi unwittingly brings to life. It begins following her and responds to any request Naomi makes, which at first seems exciting and fun to her and her (also Jewish) friends, Becca and Eitan. However, before long Naomi and her friends start experiencing ghost-like encounters, and the Golem begins growing exponentially. When they send the Golem on tasks to do good deeds, their idea backfires and great chaos descends upon Los Angeles. With the help of rabbis (both living and ghostly), Naomi and her friends research Jewish folklore as they attempt to understand why the Golem was sent, his purpose, and how to rein in what is happening without getting themselves snatched by disguised demons. Shanker has created a refreshing, fast-paced book, while centering a culture often overlooked in middle grade fiction.
VERDICT Full of adventure and Jewish traditions and customs, Jewish readers will relish in recognizing their own culture, while other kids will root for good over evil and learn about the Jewish faith along the way.

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