The Key from Spain
Flory Jagoda and Her Music
When Flory’s ancestors are forced to leave Spain during the time of 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, along with her other precious possessions—her harmoniku and her music. But what of the key?
Discover the story of Ladino singer Flory Jagoda.
|Interest Level||Kindergarten - Grade 2|
|Reading Level||Grade 1|
|Genre||Fiction, Picture Books|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®, Lerner Digital ™|
|Number of Pages||32|
School Library Journal
“Levy’s writing and Wimmer’s mixed-media illustrations strike the perfect synergy, working together to celebrate music, heritage, and family histories. The writing is poetic and lyrical, effortlessly weaving centuries of history into the story while maintaining a strikingly intimate tone. Wimmer’s illustrations are nuanced, and readers will enjoy discovering new details upon each rereading of the book. VERDICT A beautifully crafted story that touches on a lesser-known historical topic. Together, the words and pictures convey musicality without a single note of harmoniku, Flory’s instrument of choice, having to be played. This work is a must-purchase for library collections.”—School Library Journal
“…this is a worthy (though fictionalized) homage to a language and its fervent promoter.”— Kay Weisman, Booklist
“Immigrant musician Flory Jagoda preserved a repertoire of Ladino and Sephardic songs learned from her Bosnian Jewish family. A descendant of the Altaras family forced to leave Spain during the Inquisition, Flory and her family must now escape from the Balkans during World War II. Crucial to the story of the Altaras’ 16th-century exodus are the two symbols of their heritage: a key for their original home in Spain and Ladino, the traditional language of Spanish Jews. In the 20th century, Flory’s childhood is filled with the stories Nona tells about their ancestors and the music played and sung in Ladino by her talented family. Living in peace and harmony among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, their happy life is threatened as the perils of World War II approach. Fortunate to escape the death the rest of her family suffers, Flory eventually sails to the U.S. without the important key but with her own three significant symbols: her accordion, her Ladino, and her music. Levy gently weaves the history of the Sephardim into the story of Flory’s specific Balkan Jewish life, also blending in some italicized Ladino phrases and words (unfortunately, rendering “grandfather” as “Nonu” rather than the traditional “Nono”). Lovely mixed-media illustrations limn several scenes across the centuries, adding perspective to an element of Sephardic culture that is mostly unknown today in American Jewish circles. Based on a true story, an inspirational reclamation of history."―Kirkus Reviews
Illustrator: Sonja Wimmer
Sonja Wimmer loves painting pictures and telling stories. After studying and working some years as a designer in her hometown Munich and Brussels, she decided to pack her suitcase and move to Barcelona to study Illustration at the "Llotja" Arts and Crafts School. Since then she lives between brushes and all kinds of wonderful tales, working as freelance illustrator for publishing houses and other clients around the world.
Author: Debbie Levy
Debbie Levy is the author of more than 25 books of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people, including New York Times best-selling I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and National Jewish Book Award. Debbie is a former lawyer and newspaper editor, and lives in Maryland with her husband.