Sacred Leaf

Sacred Leaf

5.0 6
by Deborah Ellis

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8
This sequel to I Am a Taxi (Groundwood, 2006) opens with Diego, about 12 years old, living in the hinterlands of Bolivia, where he has been taken in by the kindly Ricardo family. They, like his unjustly imprisoned parents, are cocaleros, poor farmers whose cash crop is coca. He makes himself as useful as possible, and only Bonita Ricardo, who is about his age, resents him and wishes him gone. Soon, soldiers arrive and destroy their crop. Their dreams for a better future dashed, the Ricardos find themselves taking part in a nationwide protest. Joining their neighbors to block the only road through the area, Diego and the Ricardos work together to maintain solidarity and deal with rising tensions as the army threatens increasing force to reopen the road. Three climactic events follow as Diego waves a white flag to get help for an injured friend, then he and Bonita rush to stop an ill-advised attack on the soldiers. In the final pages, Diego exacts a measure of revenge on the men who had, among other things, killed his friend Mando, as explained in a two-page "The story so far . . . " that brings readers up to speed on events from the first book. An easy read that touches on issues seldom addressed for young teens such as third-world subsistence farming, Spanish/Indian cultural conflict, and the U.S. culpability in driving the international drug trade, this novel might work particularly well where differentiated (lower-reading level) texts on such subjects are needed.
—Joel ShoemakerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Bolivians have long consumed coca leaves, the raw ingredient in cocaine, as a mild stimulant tea to minimize the effects of hunger and altitude sickness. In this fast-paced addition to her series about cocaleros, Bolivian subsistence coca farmers, Ellis continues to follow Diego, 12, and others caught up and mangled in the global war on drugs. At the end of I Am a Taxi (2006), Diego found sanctuary with a family of cocaleros. Soon the Bolivian army arrives and destroys the family's crops and livelihood. Bereft, they join a cocaleros' protest. Tension builds as angry families, including infants and the elderly, blockade a highway and face down an increasingly frustrated army. Diego is torn between supporting the farmers and longing to return to his own family in Cochabamba. Ethical issues are conveyed powerfully, but without preaching. Characters on both sides-an army captain, torn between job and support for his community, reckless young radicals in search of excitement-are vividly rendered. Humor leavens the mix. An exciting story that confronts young readers with a very different kind of childhood. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Groundwood Books Ltd
Publication date:
Cocalero Novels
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Deborah Ellis is best known for her Breadwinner books — a series that has been published in twenty-five languages, with more than $1 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. She has won the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She recently received the Ontario Library Association’s President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement, and she has been named to the Order of Ontario.

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Sacred Leaf 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((Play 'Let Your Heart Hold Fast' while reading this.))<p>Wispleap strides in and presses her nose to the walls. She wakes up standing on StarClan grass while Dawnspot watches.<br>Sagekit pads up to her. "I give you the life of Purity. Let it guide your heart through hard times." As she touches noses with Sagekit, it seems like a electric shock runs through her.<br>Tawncloud pads up next. "I give you the life of courge. Use it to never give up." As he noses with her, her pelt quivered slightly.<br>Leafshade pads up to her. "I give you the life of Mothership. Protect your clanmates as your kits." As they touched noses, a scorching feeling rose up in Wispleap. <br>Two small kits ran up, bickering and bumping into ech other. "I wanna do it!" "Lemme!" "No!" Another cat stepped out of line. "Kits, do it together, my loves." /Truelight!/ Wispleap wanted to scream. /My baby!/ Her attention went back to Tawnkit and Mothkit. "We gonna give chu the life of fun. Never leave home without it." As she touched noses with the two kits, she stifled the urge to giggle.<br>Next, Truelight walked up. Before Wispleap could say anything, she started. "I give you the life of loyalty. Use it to remain with your clan, no matter what. Be who l couldn't." They touched noses and salty luqiud spilled out of the corner of Wispleap's eyes. "I wish l could've saved you&ndash;" "lt was not your fault, Mother. It was my own."<br>Winternight padded up. "I give you the life of love. No matter what, let love takeover when you are mad at clanmate." A small flame of love built up inside of Wispleap.<br>Tigerpaw padded up. "I give you the life of resistance. Use it to fight for your clan." A wave of fury passed through Wispleap. <br>Spotheart padded up. "I give you the life of organization. Use it to stick your clan together like mud." He stepped back with a silly grin.<br>Last, Dawnstar strided forward. "I give you the life of leadership. The life of everything." <p>"Wispstar! Wispstar!"<p>Wispstar and Dawnspot left.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The kits an Queens will sleep play and eat here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to stars of mud willy is there and as somethin u gonna be mad about....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"From this day foreward these kits will be known as Skypaw, Wavepaw, Oceanpaw and Oakpaw." Hailstar announced. He motioed for four cats to come foreward. "Skypaw your mentor will be Mistshine. Oakpaw you will be mentored by Riverfur. Oceanpaw you will be mentored by Lakepelt. Wavepaw your mentor is Reedgrass." Hailstar yowled. The Clan congradgulated the four cats. --LATER-- Mistshine led Skypaw through the woods. She carefully choose a sturdy looking ash. "Are you teaching me to climb?" Skypaw asked. Mistshine nodded. "Climb as high as you can. Ill be right behind you." She assured. Skypaw started climbing. as she looked down she saw the sun glint in Mistshines eyes. A weird emotion was there but she couldnt place it. She climbed higher. Soon she rested on a branch hat was five fox-lengths above the ground. "Wow!" She whispered looking around. Mistshine came up behind her. "Amazing isnt it?" She asked. She glanced at Skypaw. "What will be amazing is if you survive this fall." She muttered. Slowly she stalked up behind Skypaw. She leaped pushing Skypaw off. Skypaw flailed he paws trying to grab a branch. "Mistshine! Help!" She wailed. She fell. Suddenly a claw snagged a branch. Sh pulled herself up. Shaking her fur out she stared wide eyed up at Mistshine. "Wait....did off?" She asked. Mistshine clambered down. "No. I didnt. I accidentaly nudged you. Im sorry!" She soothed. Skypaw calmed down but didnt put the thought that she had almost been murdered out of her mind. -Skykit-paw