Book Review | Gershon’s Monster
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 5

Illustrated by John J. Muth

© 2000, Scholastic, Inc.

For the most part, we try to be on our best behavior throughout the year. We remember to say please and thank you. We speak kindly of and to others. We tell the truth. Of course, everyone makes an occasional mistake, and when we do we normally ask forgiveness of those we hurt. We make amends.

And then there is Gershon. Gershon also makes mistakes, but rather than repair them, he sweeps them into his basement. Then, once a year, at Rosh Hashanah time, he sweeps them into a big bag and dumps them into the ocean near his home. He does not seek forgiveness from God or those he has hurt. He just piles up his “selfish and thoughtless deeds” like so much rubbish and tosses them away, assuming them taken care of. Oh, if it were only so easy.

When Gershon seeks the help of a wise rabbi in order to have a family, the rabbi reminds him of his bad deeds. While the rabbi grants him his wish to have children, he also tells Gershon that in five years he will pay a terrible price for this request. As predicted, a terrible monster arises from the sea, a monster comprised entirely of Gershon’s wrongdoings, and attempts to swallow his children. Terrifying? Yes. Life changing? Certainly, and in Eric Kimmel’s inimitable style, Gershon, his children and all the generations to come learn a very important lesson.

John Muth’s extraordinary watercolor illustrations absolutely consume the reader with emotion, from Gershon’s apathy to the rabbi’s despair and finally Gershon’s terror. This is a powerful book for the High Holidays, one that will move the entire family.

Grade Range: 1st – 4th Grades

Ages 6-10 years

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were from my personal library.
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