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I Am a Taxi
Deborah Ellis
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I Am a Taxi (Cocalero Novels #1)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  794 Ratings  ·  131 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
ebook, 208 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Groundwood Books (first published August 31st 2006)
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Bob Beemsterboer
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
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
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
Booktalk: Diego lives in the women's prison with his mother and baby sister. His father lives in the men's prison across the way. Diego's parents were arrested when a packet of coca paste--an ingredient used to make the drug cocaine--was found under their seats on the bus. It wasn't their coca paste but Diego's parents got sent to jail anyway and now that's where they live with their children. Diego is only 12 years old but he considers himself a man who supports his family. He works hard as a " ...more
The book “I AM A TAXI” is a great adventure kind of book.and you get attached to the diego,diego is a boy he is about 13 years old and he lives with his mom in a prison because someone put coca paste under their seats when they were riding the bus and coca paste is used to make cocaine.This book is great for reading when you are bored or when you feel like reading. In Bolivia when you go to prison you have to pay for a cell and pay for food so it is kinda like a it’s own little place . Diego's r ...more
Lorraine Montgomery
Sep 17, 2014 Lorraine Montgomery added it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Page
Jan 21, 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
Angela Hutchinson
A twelve year old boy named Diego is living inside a prison with his parents in South America. His parents were arrested and sentenced to jail time for a falsely accused drug trafficking charge. Diego has become accustomed to the prison life by becoming a taxi for the inmates at the women's prison by doing odd and ends jobs outside the prison walls. Children are allowed to stay with their parents in prison as long as the rules are followed. Well Diego got into some trouble for allowing his littl ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Janinavpomp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in Bolivia. It is about a boy whos parents are in jail and he has to go out on his own to survive. Since his parents are in jail he has to do things himself. When he is out by himself he learns to be and act more brave. when he acts braver it shows the reader that this boy can do things himself. In this book the little boy has to face some tough choices. One of the choices were to take the long way around to avoid some people that he didn't really like. but instead of takin ...more
Oct 17, 2010 Dominique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rose Goodwin
This book was very interesting and easy to read. It is a good book for learning about Bolivian culture. There is a vocabulary list at the end of the book to help with the language. I like it so much that I would read the sequel. That was the only disappointing thing about the book - the story ended abrubtly. I guess I will be reading the next one to find out what happens to Diego. It does have some sad parts, but also some happy ones. I also liked that it has two settings - city (prison) and jun ...more
Harvey Hou
Nov 08, 2015 Harvey Hou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in one of South America's poorest countries, Bolivia. This story is split between the prisons of San Sebastián and the Bolivian jungle where cocoa beans grow. This story is told by the main character and protagonist, Diego. He is a 13 year old who's parents are unfairly imprisoned. He lives in the women's prison with his mom and his little sister. The children are allowed to visit his father in the men's prison. Diego goes to a school near the prison and also earns money to ...more
May 31, 2012 N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diego, run is a book about a boy called Diego. Diego lives with his mother and sister in a prison cell in Cochabamba, Bolivia. His father is still alive and well but he lives in a different prison from Diego. He is aloud to go in and out of the prison but his mum can not. he goes to school but he earns money as a taxi so he delivers things in exchange of money.One day his friend Mando finds some people looking for boys to help on a job in exchange of money at the end of the job. Diego thinks abo ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I am a Taxi is a heart-wrenching story about a young boy Diego who lives within the walls of a prison in Bolivia.

His parents were wrongly accused of smuggling cocaine and Diego lives with them in the prison and works as a ‘taxi’ to make money to pay for their cell and food. Diego is content with his life as a taxi but gets into some trouble that his mother must pay the prison for (ruining a vat of soup) and with his current income from taxiing, it would take Diego near-forever to pay off.

Apr 24, 2010 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a taxi is the story of a 12 year old boy named, Diego, who makes money for his wrongfully imprisoned family by working as a 'taxi' or errand boy for people in the prison. What I found interesting about this book was the structure of the prison system in which Diego and his family were living. I couldn't believe that the children would be able to stay with their parents in prison, or that upon entering prison the prisoners run everything but security. Reading about the structure of the priso ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Marjorie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 31, 2011 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read"I am a taxi" by Deborah Ellis . It was a pretty good book I thought.
It is about a boy named Diego, who lives in a prison with his mom and sister,Cornia in Bolivia. He did alll the homework for the rich kids at his school.
One day a lady yelled "taxi" and he raced as fast as he could to get there, because he thought that he could earn more Bolivianos.
Bolivianos in Bolivia means money. He was the first one there so he did the erand and he earned some Bolivianos.
Sooner than later, He started
Oh no! I was all set to give this less stars, and point you to ANY other children's book about bolivia. But, as it turns out, there aren't any! There is this fantastic non-profit that publishes bilingual picture books and promotes literacy in bolivia, but they aren't even currently in print. That means I have to actually review this book... positively. Here goes nothing.

OK, when you see that an author has written a variety of books that "give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children
Apr 12, 2012 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a little boy who lives in Cochabamba. His family is forced to live in a prison for growing coca. I visited Cochabamba in 2010. It is a beautiful city. I visited some of the indigenous peoples living in the rural areas around the city and I fell inlove with them. They are so hard-working and funny and kind and giving. I agree with the author that coca is a sacred plant used for thousands of years by the indigenous people for medicine and religious rituals. I admire her for pres ...more
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
May 31, 2012 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diego really wants to get out of prison and also wants to help his mum, dad and baby sister out of prison. Diego works as a taxi doing errands. This is how he earns money for his family. But when Diego gets in trouble, costing his family a massive fine, his family desperately needs money.Fortunately, Diego's best friend Mando has plans in order to let them earn big money! But when Diego and Mando find themselves deep in the jungle, things turn from bad to worse. Soon Diego and Mando along with s ...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
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
Stephanie Gulliver
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
This book is about a mother and her two children living in a Women’s Prison. The son, Diego, is the oldest of the two and has a younger sister, Corina. The three of them live in a cramped cell in Boliva. To help support his family Diego works at the prison pretty much doing whatever he can to help his mother. His work consists of running errands for other prisoners as well as doing homework for the other kids in his school. Diego works very hard to support his family until they have some
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
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
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
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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)
  • Sacred Leaf: The Cocalero Novels

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