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B.U.G

(Big Ugly Guy)

Yolen, Jane

(Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
B.U.G
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Tired of being picked on at school for being a "furrin Immigrant" because he is Jewish, twelve-year-old Sammy Greenburg learns the legend of the golem from his bar mitzvah coach, but discovers that friends--and forming a klezmer fusion band--can be better than magic in defeating bullies.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Dutton Children's Books, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780525422389
0525422382
Branch Call Number: J FIC Y
Characteristics: 344 p. ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Stemple, Adam

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Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple, tackle several difficult subjects in this story about Sammy and his decision to create a golem. The problem of bullying sets the scene. In this story, adults are not helpful in stopping the problem of the attacks. Finding friends in a new place under difficult circumstances is also a significant part of the book. But Sammy's desperate decision to steal a rabbi's book to learn how to create a golum to fight their enemies is what really makes this story unique. Not only does Sammy have to deal with his own lies that he tells to keep his secret, but he has to deal with the golem, who develops a personality and becomes a friend of sorts. The rabbi quickly discovers his act and gives him repeated warnings about the dangers of keeping his golem alive, but only when actual lives are threatened does he gain the courage to destroy his creation. Kids would sympathize with Sammy's attempts to keep his friends safe no matter what as well as relate to his guilty feelings about his theft, his creation, and his lies. Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple also do a good job describing the risks of attempting to use magic when the dangers are not really understood. The book also gives a nice overview of Jewish cultural traditions and history which help Sammy in his growth to manhood as he studies for his bar mitzvah. I would recommend this book for around 5th grade and up.

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