ISBN 9781770863910 | 5.375″ x 8″ | TPB | $12.95 | Age: 9-12 | 240 pp
What is the most dangerous secret of all? For fifteen-year-old Dany, is it the shame that his once-vital mother now suffers mutely from “the staring sickness?” Or is it that Count Pol, the corrupt absolute ruler of Western Gottika, may be scouting the city clandestinely for teenage girls to kidnap? Could the worst secret be the mystery behind why all the kids in the Estat are only-children? Or could it be that Dany’s father possesses the secret knowledge of how to bring clay to life, and transform it into a terrifying weapon — an all-powerful Gol?
When Dany’s father is framed for the brutal murder of Gottika’s Princess Avivia, Dany is forced to confront all of these secrets. But that won’t be enough. In order to save his father, he’ll have to go still deeper. He’ll have to uncover his own family’s secret, one even darker and more disturbing than the rest.
Gottika reimagines a powerful Jewish legend as a futuristic fantasy with a universal message.
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Longlisted for the 2015 Sunburst Award
“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 & Quire
“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.”
“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.”
– Mabel’s Fables Raves and Faves, ****/4 review
“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 lifetime of study, swept away. Nothing left but dreams and dust.
I couldn’t bear the thought of my father without his books. They were like his hands, his heart — a necessary part of him. How could he live — how could we live — without them?
I stared at the naked shelves, unblinking.
“Can’t we get them back, Papa?”
My father said nothing.
“Why can’t we go to Count Rayn and make a deputation? You say he’s been lenient with you before. You say he respects learning! Maybe he’ll intercede with Count Pol!”
My father still said nothing. He drifted over to the window and thrust aside the drapes.
“Please, Papa! You have to do something!”
“It’s too late. Even if Count Rayn dared to challenge Count Pol, it wouldn’t make a difference. What’s done is done.”
He shifted his gaze to the market square. His shoulders sagged.
“But, Papa! You can’t just … take it!”
He beckoned me over. “Look there. What do you see?”
I scanned the familiar scene. “Nothing special. Just people milling about the market. But wait … Today isn’t market day …”
I didn’t understand the significance. I looked to my father for an explanation.
“Look harder, Dany. And remember the old proverb: The wise don’t need eyes to see.”
His words pricked at my pride.
Fine. I’ll show him.
Again I peered down, straining to see into the roiling crowd.
At its heart, a knot of …soldiers. I couldn’t see what they were doing.
I took a deep breath, and then another, in a vain attempt to slow my drumming heart.
That’s when I caught the first whiff.
The soldiers were burning the books.
Horrified, I flung myself away from the window.
My father wrapped his arms around me. He held me tight to stop my shaking. His voice was calm. Soothing.
“Perhaps, when we can no longer make use of God’s words here on Earth, it’s fitting to return them to him.”
About the Author and Illustrator
Books by the Author
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