NONFICTION

The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music

Kar-Ben. Aug. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781541522183; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781541522190.
COPY ISBN
Gr 2-5–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

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