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9780888998088_cover Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $9.95
also available: Hardcover eBook
published: Sep 2007

Sacred Leaf

by Deborah Ellis

reviews: 0
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $9.95
also available: Hardcover eBook
published: Sep 2007

USBBY Oustanding International Books selection

After he finally manages to escape from being a virtual slave in an illegal cocaine operation, Diego is taken in by the Ricardo family -- poor coca farmers who provide a safe haven while he recovers from his ordeal in the jungle. But even that brief respite comes to an end when the army moves in and destroys the family's coca crop -- and their livelihood.

Diego eventually joins the cocaleros as they protest the destruction of their crops by barricading the roads, confronting the army head on. As tension between the cocaleros builds to a dramatic standoff, the wonders whether he will ever find a way to return to his family.

About the Author

Deborah Ellis

DEBORAH ELLIS is the award-winning author of several books for kids and teens. She is best known for her novel The Breadwinner, which she wrote following her work at refugee camps in Afghanistan. She has also written on other serious issues affecting young people around the world, including drug use, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and war.


Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

Deborah Ellis is a member of the Order of Canada. She has won the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Governor General’s Award, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She is best known for her Breadwinner series, which has been published in twenty-five languages, with $2 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. deborahellis.com

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
10 to 14
5 to 9
Reading age:
10 to 14
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2008 (Starred Selection)
  • Commended, Horace Mann Upstanders Book Award
  • Commended, CCBC Choices 2008
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books
  • Commended, Americas Award Commended List
  • Commended, National Post's Top New Books
  • Long-listed, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award
  • Commended, Quill & Quire Books of the Year 2007 List
Editorial Reviews

Ellis sketches believable, well-delineated characters in very few words: in Diego, grief and decency, eagerness to help and desire for affection comingle appealingly...a remarkably compact blend of character and engaging, dramatic events...a good choice for reluctant readers.

— Toronto Star

This compassionate account of the lives of the working poor makes us care deeply about the characters, both children and adults, because their struggles have a human face. Strikingly, the children are as integral to the success of the blockade as the adults, and no one belittles their support. Ellis portrays adults who truly respect the part that children can play in the world and children who believe that they can make a, difference. This ultimately makes Sacred Leaf a powerful work of fiction for young readers.

— Quill & Quire

Based on historical events in Bolivia's history, this realistic fiction novel contains enough adventure to draw reluctant readers while providing important information that is little know by today's youth. Highly recommended.

— Reforma

...middle school readers possessing a developing social conscience will recognize that Ellis is really telling a story that has a much greater significance beyond just this one isolated happening.

— CM Magazine

It's a dramatic story that manages the nuances...

— Kliatt

...Ellis brings the events themselves alive...[readers] will be sorry to say goodbye.

— Paper Tigers

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