Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 5 to 9
- Reading age: 10 to 14
I Am a Taxi
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.
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 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.
Other titles by Deborah Ellis
My Story Starts Here
Voices of Young Offenders
Kids of Kabul
Living Bravely through a Never-ending War
Parvana : Une enfance en Afghanistan
La bande dessinée
The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel
A Graphic Novel