The Key from Spain and A Scarf for Keiko Commended by Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music, a picture book written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, and A Scarf for Keiko, a picture book written by Ann Malaspina and illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard, were named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and Notable Book, respectively. Kar-Ben Publishing®, a division of Lerner Publishing Group™, published both titles. The Sydney Taylor Book Awards are given to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. They are awarded annually by the Association of Jewish Libraries, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA awards were announced this morning at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

The Key from Spain tells the true story of Ladino singer Flory Jagoda, whose Sephardic Jewish ancestors are forced to leave Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. They take with them their two most precious possessions—the key to their old house and the Ladino language. When Flory flees Europe during World War II to begin a new life in the United States, she carries Ladino with her as her ancestors did, along with her other precious possessions—her harmoniku and her music. Though the house key is lost in the war, Flory uses music as a key to connect to her Ladino traditions and share them with others.

Set in 1942, A Scarf for Keiko follows a boy named Sam, whose class is knitting socks for soldiers. Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don’t want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko’s family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, Sam realizes he must stand up for his friend so he finds a unique way to show Keiko how much their friendship means to him.

“Debbie Levy, author of the best-selling I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, has once again done an outstanding job of telling the story of a contemporary Jewish woman making her mark on the world,” said Joni Sussman, Publisher of Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. “With a stronger need than ever for books about diverse cultures, we’re thrilled to have this wonderful book about Ladino singer Flory Jagoda receive this recognition. We’re also very proud of A Scarf for Keiko, whose story of friendship between kids of two different cultures is more important than ever in today’s world.”

For more information about The Key from Spain and A Scarf for Keiko visit

Praise for The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music:
“Levy’s captivating picture book biography tells the story of Flory Jagoda, known today as the ‘Keeper of the Flame’ of Sephardic culture and music.”—starred, School Library Journal

“An inspirational reclamation of history.”―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for A Scarf for Keiko:
“A rich source for discussion, both about outward political oppression and the inward struggle to behave honorably amid it.”—Publishers Weekly

“A gentle and accessible story of tolerance . . .”―Kirkus Reviews

About the Publisher
Kar-Ben PublishingKar-Ben Publishing, founded in 1974, is a division of Lerner Publishing Group™, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With over 400 titles in print, Kar-Ben is the largest publisher of exclusively Jewish-themed children’s books in the world, publishing 18-20 new, high quality children’s titles each year. For more information, visit or call 800-328-4929.

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To purchase The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music and A Scarf for Keiko please visit your local bookstore, order by phone at 800-328-4929, or visit us online at

CONTACT: Joanna Sussman
800-382-4929, ext. 229

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