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I Am a Taxi (Cocalero Novels #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  931 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
For twelve-year-old Diego and his family, home is the San Sebastian Women’s 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. Diego’s adjusted to his new life. His parents are locked up, but he can come and go: to school, to the market to sell his mother’s ha ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Groundwood Books (first published August 31st 2006)
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Rebecca McNutt
Jun 13, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Diego is a curious, inquisitive twelve-year-old, spending his time in school and the market like many kids his age. But his family exists behind bars, and as I Am A Taxi progresses, this scenario really takes a toll on him. This middle grade novel is one of few that tells the story of a child left over from the war on drugs, a boy who wants nothing more than to be with his family, all of them out from behind iron bars.
✨ Ljubica ✨
Mar 07, 2017 ✨ Ljubica ✨ rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2017
Super suprised how quickly i went through this book considering i just worked an 8hr shift at the pool.
an interesting story about diego and his life living behind bars and the war on drugs.
I remember this being one of the books of the year in elementary school hence why i own this book. it was always taken out of the library and i wanted my class to win the ice cream party if you read the most books.
Kara Buchholz
Diego is living in a women’s prison with his mom and little sister because him and his family were faulty accused for having coca paste, during the war on drugs with the government. Diego and his family who lived on a farm will be residing in the prisons for another thirteen years. His father who although could not live in the prison with them lives in the prison that is close, for mostly only men. Diego had adapted to this new life even though at times he wishes greatly he could be back
Bob Beemsterboer
Apr 23, 2010 Bob Beemsterboer rated it liked it
From the very beginning of I Am a Taxi, Ellis had me engulfed in the story. She was able to paint a real life picture of the tumultuous and almost insane Bolivian prison system. The main character, Diego, lives with his mother and sister in the women's prison, after his parents were framed for smuggling. Children technically live in the prison, but are not inmates, which gives them the freedom to go outside the prison walls as they please. Since prison cells need to be rented, and food needs to ...more
Apr 27, 2010 Al_ryanleagre rated it it was amazing
I am a Taxi is about a young boy named Diego that has spent most of his life in a Bolivian prison. His parents were wrongfully accused of smuggling cocaine and were sent to prison for 17 years. However, these prisons allow family members such as children to live there too. Diego works as a taxi, delivering goods and running errands for other prisoners and merchants, to help pay for food and rent (prisoners are required to pay for their food and to rent a cell in the prison). Diego is fairly happ ...more
Oct 02, 2010 Dominique rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I couldn't imagine being out in the world on my own at the age of 12! I Am A Taxi tells the story of 12 year old, Diego's hardships in the streets and jungle of Bolivia. A teacher can use this book to enhance discussions on decision making and perseverance.
Laura Figueroa
Feb 06, 2017 Laura Figueroa rated it it was amazing
“I Am a Taxi” was such an fascinating book with lots of action and a little curious boy who thought he was doing the right thing but in reality, wasn’t. This book taught me so much like the stuff that happens in other countries I could never imagine happening to my little brothers. Diego was a little boy who had parents in jail. He lived with his mother and his little sister in an all women's jail cell next to where his father was jailed at in Cochabamba, Bolivia. An all men’s jail. Diego was a ...more
Jill Sanders
This inspiring story is told in first and third person because it explains his own thoughts but uses his name to discuss a situatoin. Diego is a 12-year-old boy, born in Bolivia. His ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ were accused of stealing coca paste that was tapped under their minibus seats traveling into town. They were coca leave farmers and would never have done something so wrong. His mother was put in the San Sebastian Women’s Prison and his father was put in the men’s prison across the courtyard. Diego ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Maryann rated it really liked it

I Am a Taxi tells the story of a boy named Diego and his life in San Sebastian Women’s Prison with his mom and little sister in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Diego spends his days as a taxi, running errands for people inside and outside of the prison as a means to earn Bolivianos, or money to help support his family. When Diego accidently loses his little sister Corina within the prison, Diego’s family has to pay a lot of money as punishment. Diego also loses his job as a taxi and has no other m
Staci Lowe
I am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis
Interest 6th-8th grade
Juvenile fiction, literature

I am a Taxi takes place mostly in Bolivia. For 12 year old Diego, the San Sebastian’s Women’s Prison has been where he calls home. His parents were both arrested during the war on drugs for having a coco farm. Diego remember bits and pieces of his real home and misses it deeply. Although Diego and his sister are not prisoners, they live with their mother in the women’s prison. They are allowed to leave for scho
Paper back, chapter book, Realistic Fiction, Grade level 6, 760L.

Diego was born in the country of Bolivia to his parents, whom he calls mama and papa, and they were coca leave farmers. He and his family were wrongfully thrown into jail when traveling into town on a minibus, when it was raided and coca paste was found near where his family was sitting. His parents are put into the same prison, but in different parts. His mama is in the women’s ward, and his papa is in the men’s ward.
Lacey Ellison

I Am a Taxi is a realistic fiction chapter book about a boy named Diego who lives with his mother and sister in a prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. After his parents were wrongly accused of smuggling drugs, he was forced to become a taxi running errands around the village for other prisoners to make money for his family. He also did homework for other children to make money. The story is told by an unknown third person narrator whose point of view is restricted to what Diego observes and
Ciara Alamillo
Sep 11, 2012 Ciara Alamillo rated it it was amazing
Diego and his sister Corina are raised in a women’s prison in a small city in Bolivia. With little money Diego works as a taxi to support his mother and sister so they can make rent on their small cell in the prison. A taxi in Bolivia is considered to be someone who is able to run errands for the other inmates so that they get the goods they need from the inside. After every job is done, Diego receives a little amount of pay for his duty which his mother let’s Diego keep for things he nee
Maria Reyes

I am taxi takes place in a small city in Cochabamba, Bolivia about a family of four mom, dad, Diego and Corina his sister. Diego’s parents were caught by the government of Bolivia dealing with drugs. They were put in jail and Diego and his sister had to adjust to life in prison but had to pay rent in order to live in the cell with the mother. In order to support the family Diego was working as a taxi driver running errands for his mother and the inmates in return to make some money to gi
Milagros Vazquez
Oct 01, 2012 Milagros Vazquez rated it it was amazing
Twelve year old Diego lives with his mother and his sister, Corina, in a women’s prison in Bolivia. When Diego was eight years old, his mother and father were falsely accused of selling coca paste, which is a drug in Bolivia and, and are sentenced for seventeen years. Since Diego wasn’t a prisoner, he was allowed to go outside and be transportation to people; they called him taxi, not because he drove a taxi, but because he did tasks for people and got paid for it. Almost everyone in pris
Mar 04, 2017 Rise rated it liked it
The book was OK but their wasn't enough details and the ending was bad.
Pedro Chavez
Feb 27, 2017 Pedro Chavez rated it it was amazing
I read I am a taxi. I would recommend this book to some people. The part I like about this book is that He’s willing to do anything to see his parents out of prison. The part I don’t like about this book is that both his parents left him out by himself trying to get his stuff together. This book is a book about a 12 year old boy named Diego which was born in Bolivia trying to make it on his own. Both his mom and dad are in prison, everyday he goes and visits them. They went to prison for dealing ...more
Henna Patel
Summary/ Annotation: This book is about a 12 year old boy named Diego living in Bolivia. His mom and dad are accused of smuggling coca paste which is important for cocaine. The paste was discovered when they were traveling in the bus. Although the parents were not at fault. For this reason Diego and his family are sentenced to live in a prison in their country for sixteen years. While in prison Diego does strange tasks in order to make some money to help out his mother and 3 year old sister. The ...more
Stephanie Gulliver
Sep 25, 2012 Stephanie Gulliver rated it it was amazing
Summary: I Am Taxi, follows the story of a young boy named Diego growing up in a prison with his mother and sister in Bolivia. He works as a taxi, doing favors for those in the prison and making money from doing jobs for them. Diego is very smart and also makes money from doing homework for the students in his school. He dreams of a life outside of the prison, and going back to his regular life with his whole family on their farm. When his best friend Mando mentions a job that would give them a ...more
Nina G.
I Am a Taxi follows the life of young Diego who lives in a prison in Bolivia with his mother and sister. His father is kept in a separate male prison. His parents lived day to day in poverty stricken Bolivia by farming coca. His family is actually in prison for trafficking drugs, something that they actually did not do. The children of the parents in the prison are allowed to leave the premises while the parents are not allowed. This is how they make money to survive in prison. Diego is very tru ...more
Tony Montez
Diego is a little boy who is growing up in prison living with his mother and sister. Both of his parents were arrested for having coco paste taped under their seats of a wagon, and even though it was not their paste they were blamed for it and sent to prison. Diego and his sister are not prisoners so they are allowed to leave the prison anytime they choose. This helps Diego make extra money by being a "taxi" for people and running their errands. He doesn’t make much money off of it but it
Lorraine Montgomery
Sep 17, 2014 Lorraine Montgomery added it
Recommends it for: anyone over age 10
Intriguing title! "How can a person be a taxi?" you might ask. I wondered also. This is the title of a 2006 children's book by Deborah Ellis. It is dedicated "To those we keep in cages".

Diego lives in the poorest country in South America -- Bolivia -- and until his family got on a trufti (bus) to travel to the Saturday market with other farmers, his father was a cocoalero (coca farmer) and they lived on a farm with chickens, a small vegetable garden and many, many coca bushes. Their bus was stop
Sep 20, 2012 Jamaica rated it it was amazing
A young boy resides in a prison with his mother and sister. His parents were falsely arrested and now he lives between prison walls on a single cot and wakes up to roll call. He earns money running errands and doing homework for kids at school. When his mother is fined because of a mistake he made, he feels obligated to step up and earn extra money; illegally.

Readers step into the scenery of his country Bolivia and get realistic depiction of the poor. Cocoa has many uses and many “gifts.” Diego
Heather Mcgrath
Sep 24, 2012 Heather Mcgrath rated it it was amazing

The book “I am a Taxi” is about a young boy named Diego, who lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia. His family is in prison in Bolivia for trafficking drugs, which they didn’t do. Because Bolivia is so poor the children of the parents who are in prison have to live in the prison too. They are allowed to come and go (although their parents are not), this is how they make money and help to support their families. Even in prison, the prisoners are expected to pay for where they live and what they ea
Jun 15, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nicole
Recommended to Jill by: the book shelf
I tried to write this review on my phone using my Goodreads app, but it had an error and force-closed...... so I hope I remember everything I had written before!!

I chose this book randomly off the shelf. The title sounded strange, and when I read the jacket, it pulled me in! I'm so glad I chose it - I thought it was a really great book.

This was the story of a Bolivian boy whose parents were falsely accused of transporting drugs and were sentenced to fifteen years in Bolivian prison. People's chi
Oct 16, 2012 Cecilia rated it liked it

Deborah Ellis tells a story about a twelve-year-old boy, Diego, who lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia with his sister and mother in a prison cell. Diego is considered a taxi inside the women’s prison. Diego is able to help provide for his family by running errands for the women outside the prison for pay and doing his classmates homework. Even though Diego maintains a good work ethic, money is tight for his family and needs more. His friend, Mando, who lives in the men’s prison with his father
This story is about a twelve year old boy named Diego. He lives in the San Sebastian Women’s Prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia with his mother and little sister. His father is in the men's prison in Boliva. His family was sent there when his parents were falsely accused with the possession of drugs. Diego works as a taxi, running errands for the other prisoners. Diego works to help his mother since prisoners must pay rent. He is given the responsibility to watch over his little sister, who can be a ...more
Nathan Page
Jan 18, 2016 Nathan Page rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazing adventure about a boy who lives in prison with his family. Diego, the main character, soon gets caught up knee high whilst doing drugs, the very thing his family was falsely accused for smuggling and sent to prison for. In prison Diego is free to roam wherever he wants. Soon Diego and his friend Manado go on an unknown journey to an unknown place for an unknown job. On their journey they realize that the only way they will ever see their family again is if they risk every ...more
Madison Gervais

This book is about a young boy named Diego and his family who live in a Prison located in Bolivia. His mother and father were wrongly accused of smuggling Coca paste (A key ingredient to cocaine), and given 16 years. Diego lives with his mother and little sister in the Women’s prison and he has to do odd jobs to make money in order for them to live in a cell. The main job Diego does is being a taxi; this job entails him running errands for people outside the prison. When this amount o
Veronica Smith
Sep 24, 2012 Veronica Smith rated it it was amazing
Diego is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mom and little sister in a women’s prison in Bolivia. His father lives in the men’s prison across the street and he and his sister get to visit him. His parents were put in prison because they were caught in the government’s war against drugs. Diego has a job as a taxi; he does random jobs for women around the prison and which he earns money for.
His sister runs away and costs his family a large fine, Diego is also forbidden from being a taxi until
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t
More about Deborah Ellis...

Other Books in the Series

Cocalero Novels (2 books)
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