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Children's Fiction Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse

I Am a Taxi

by (author) Deborah Ellis

Publisher
Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2006
Category
Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Violence, Caribbean & Latin America
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780888997364
    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
    $9.95
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780888997357
    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
    $18.95
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781554980215
    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
    $9.95
  • Downloadable audio file

    ISBN
    9781773068787
    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price
    $24.99
  • Downloadable audio file

    ISBN
    9781773068770
    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price
    $24.99

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 5 to 9
  • Reading age: 10 to 14

Description

Winner of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award

For twelve-year-old Diego and his family, home is a prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. His parents farmed coca, a traditional Bolivian medicinal plant, until they got caught in the middle of the government's war on drugs and were mistakenly convicted of drug possession.

Diego's parents are locked up, but he can come and go: to school, to the market to sell his mother's handknitted goods, and to work as a "taxi," running errands for other prisoners. But then his little sister temporarily runs off while under his watch, earning his mother a heavy fine. The debt and dawning realization of his hopeless situation make him vulnerable to his friend Mando's plan to make big money, fast.

Soon, Diego is deep in the jungle, working as a virtual slave in an illegal cocaine operation. As his situation becomes more and more dangerous, he knows he must take a terrible risk if he ever wants to see his family again.

About the author

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children, including The Breadwinner Trilogy; The Heaven Shop; Lunch With Lenin; Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees; and Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS. She has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Children’s Africana Book Award Honor Book for Older Readers.Deborah knew she wanted to be a writer at the age of 11 or 12. Growing up in Paris, Ontario, she loved reading about big cities like New York. In high school, Deborah joined the Peace Movement, playing anti-Nuclear War movies at her school. Since then Deborah has become a peace activist, humanitarian and philanthropist, donating almost all of the royalties from her books to communities in need in Asia and Africa. Heavily involved with Women for Women in Afghanistan, Deborah has helped build women’s centers and schools, giving children education and finding work for women.In 2006, Deborah was named to the Order of Ontario. She now lives in Simcoe, Ontario.

Deborah Ellis' profile page

Awards

  • Long-listed, OLA Golden Oak Award
  • Short-listed, Alberta Children's Choice Award
  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award
  • Long-listed, SYRCA Snow Willow Award
  • Commended, SSLI Honor Book
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice
  • Long-listed, YALSA BBYA
  • Commended, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice
  • Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Commended, White Ravens

Editorial Reviews

Vivid details and a thrilling plot will keep older children and teens engaged in this highly-accessible, realistic novel.

Reforma

Ellis makes a strong and informative case for protecting and honoring coca as an important medicinal and cash crop for the Bolivian farmers while strongly condemning the cocaine trade; as usual, her case is made with compelling characters and riveting action rather than through didactic intrusions.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

I Am a Taxi is uncompromisingly gritty and graphic, painting a devastatingly accurate portrait of life for kids (and their parents) in the Third World....a good story, well told, with a compelling plot and fully realized characters, that will captivate readers.

Quill & Quire

Deborah Ellis's latest glimpse into another culture is a valuable addition to her oeuvre.

Vancouver Sun

Once again, Deborah Ellis takes us into the harsh realities of a developing country...[The story] is told in a stark, realistic manner and shows a way of life which is almost impossible for most children in Canada to imagine. I Am a Taxi will be enjoyed by male and female readers in the intermediate grades and I'm sure they will enthusiastically await the sequel...to find out what new adventures await Diego.

Resource Links

...Ellis exposes her North American readers to the harsh lives being experienced by children and youths who live in developing countries...Highly Recommended.

CM Magazine

This is not your usual teen storyline....an excellent story that will appeal to any readers who feel trapped by their lives....The characters are well-drawn and realistic.

Library Media Connection

This book should be in junior and senior high school libraries. The story is gripping, well written, and informative. It will attract reluctant readers and still please those who read more widely.

Kliatt

Readers will be caught up by the nonstop action in the prison, and also in jungle survival adventure, where escape is peppered by the specter of death.

Booklist

Ellis artfully describes the horrible conditions in the overcrowded prison, the street children who sniff glue, and the backbreaking labor-often performed by children-to make the paste that will eventually become crack cocaine...Readers can look forward to a sequel.

VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

...the strength of the book lies in the glimpse of a single individual struggling to exist in a society with limited options for escape.

Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW

...because of its unusual setting and subject matter, and Ellis's efforts to explicate complex social, political, and economic issues, this book should find a place in larger collections.

School Library Journal

Librarian Reviews

H I Am a Taxi (Cocalero Novels)

Diego’s family lives in prison, and he runs errands as a “taxi” to earn money. When that ends, he must consider another plan – one that takes him deep into the heart of the Bolivian jungle.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

Other titles by Deborah Ellis