Book Review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis

Posted April 19, 2012 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 0 Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I received this book for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. WillisHow to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis
Published by Floris Books on 2011-11-17
Genres: fantasy, Middle-Grade
Pages: 239
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher via NetGalley
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four-stars

"You think you're a fairy godmother or something?" I asked.
"Or something," Michael agreed.

Edda is tired of her nickname, 'Mouse', and wants to be braver. But when her house is burgled on her thirteenth birthday, Edda is more afraid than ever. That is until new boy Michael Scot starts school. There's something peculiar -- and very annoying -- about know-it-all Michael. He claims to be a great alchemist who can help Edda overcome her fears by teaching her to build a golem. But surely they can't bring a giant mud monster to life? Can they?

Winner of the Kelpies Prize 2011.

How to Make a Golem and Terrify People is written from Edda’s point of view. The book opens with Edda sitting on her front lawn after burglars have broken into her house and taken her birthday presents. We learn that Edda has moved around quite a bit in her 13 years, is nicknamed Mouse because she is always scared, and has only ever felt at home in this house. Until she no longer does. To keep her parents from moving again, she decides she’s going to stop being Edda the Mouse for good and start being brave. And her new friend, the strange new student Michael Scot, is going to help her. Edda confides in Michael that she is scared and together they set out on an adventure that he promises will cure Edda of her scaredy-cat ways and maybe even keep the school bully away from her for good.

Alette J. Willis does a wonderful job writing this coming-of-age story. As readers we are given the chance to watch Edda grow from a scared little girl into a brave teenager who believes in herself. As the mother of a preschool girl, this is the kind of book I will want my daughter to read as she gets older and Edda is the kind of character I want her looking up to and relating to. While Edda doesn’t always make the best choices, she always learns from her mistakes and makes everything right in the end. There isn’t a lot of depth given to the secondary characters and the younger readers may not understand who Michael Scot is or why he is so strange, but the main characters are all very well written and relatable to the younger readers.

How to Make a Golem and Terrify People is full of suspense and real-life situations. While the title and cover suggest a scary, horror-filled book, the characters are never in much danger. Other than the burglary at the beginning and the short-lived fear the characters feel when faced with the Golem, the book is never too scary. This is ultimately a story about friendships, believing in yourself, working together, and facing your fears, not an action-adventure horror story about monsters.

And that is my favorite part. I would be perfectly happy for my kids to read this and they would be happy to pick up a book with the promise of a Golem inside. Teaching kids how to overcome fears by facing them head-on, that friendships aren’t always easy but always worth it, and that you should always stand up for yourself, whether to the school bully or to your parents, is very important. When a book has both those lessons and a just-right amount of suspense and monsters for the younger readers, we can all be happy with it. I would definitely recommend How to Make a Golem and Terrify People to anyone over the age of eight.

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