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The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music Kindle Edition
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.
"When the Altaras family leaves Spain following the Inquisition, they carry a key to their old house and
Ladino, the spoken language of Sephardic Jews. In 1923, a girl named Flory is born into the Altaras family
in Bosnia. She loves Ladino, music, and the harmoniku (accordion) given to her by her nona
(grandmother). In 1941, Flory must flee the Nazis, and playing music keeps her from being unmasked as a
Jew. Later, she immigrates to America as a war bride, sharing music and Ladino with all. Levy's succinct
text conveys the highlights of Jagoda's life as well as her love of the folk music that is central to Ladino
culture. Wimmer's artwork utilizes maps, dates, and other imagery to convey a sense of the many time
periods and places depicted. She also works Ladino words and phrases into her art, using strategic
placement to ensure readers will grasp the meanings. With further information about Jagoda and links to
her performances, this is a worthy (though fictionalized) homage to a language and its fervent promoter."― Kay Weisman, Booklist
"Debbie Levy and Sonja Wimmer have created an informative tribute to the Jewish language, Ladino, and one of its most beloved and distinguished voices, singer and songwriter Flory Jagoda. Born in Bosnia to a Sephardic family in 1923, Jagoda escaped the terrors of the World War II and went on to dedicate her life to preserving and presenting the traditions of her people. Levy’s impassioned text and Wimmer’s lavish pictures invite readers to learn more about the beauty of Sephardic culture through the story of Jagoda’s courageous life journey.
The 'key' of the title has a double meaning. Levy begins the story long before Jagoda’s birth in Spain, or Al-Andalus, the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula during the Early Middle Ages. Many years of relatively peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews ended in 1492, when the Spanish monarchy expelled non-Christians, including Jagoda’s ancestors. The Altaras family left with two parts of their legacy: the small key to their Spanish house, and the great and unforgettable key of their language. Levy presents the historical material in an engaging way, conveying to young readers the most important events after the Altaras found a new home in Bosnia. Throughout the book, selected pages end with a simulated curl upwards and a date printed in large font, providing a timeline for the narrative.
Like Yiddish, which has Germanic grammar but many words incorporated from Hebrew and other languages, Ladino is rooted in medieval Spanish, with vocabulary borrowed from the lands where the Sephardim settled, as well as from Hebrew and Aramaic. Levy’s description of the Sephardim’s transplanted world is joyous and rich, but not exotic. Flory grows up in a musical family which, centuries after being forced out of Spain, still strongly identifies with its past. The book’s text and pictures bring daily activities to life, from ritual practices to warm social interactions with Flory’s friends and neighbors. When a Nazi puppet régime takes over Croatia, where her family had moved, Flory’s world of secure connections is shattered. Levy recounts Flory’s perilous escape with tension but not terror, and Wimmer’s image of a young Jewish girl on a crowded train, serenely playing the accordion with eyes closed, expresses her strength. This is a book which shows the dangerous realities of Jewish history in a way which children can process.
The book concludes with Flory’s successful career, opening her culture to others with the key of art and faithfulness to her past. There is a brief section documenting her honors and giving more information about her life. Readers can scan a QR code in the shape of a key to hear Flory Jagoda’s performance of the Hanukkah classic, 'Ocho Kandelikas.'
The Key from Spain is highly recommended both for children and adults interested in learning about Sephardic culture and history."―Jewish Book Council
"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― Journal
"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. The narrative begins centuries after Flory’s descendants, the Altaras family, were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition due to their Sephardic identity. After centuries of living peacefully in Bosnia, Flory’s family had to escape the dangers of World War II for the same reason. Forced to flee her home for America, Flory relied on music to stay connected to her family’s heritage, even as war ravaged her home and stole away her loved ones. 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― Journal --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
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.
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.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B07V1WJN6B
- Publisher : Kar-Ben Publishing ®; Illustrated edition (Aug. 1 2019)
- Language : English
- File size : 7686 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Sticky notes : Not Enabled
- Print length : 32 pages
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