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The Gold Coin


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About the Author

Alma Flor Ada, an authority on multicultural and bilingual education, is the recipient of the 2012 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and in 2014 she was honored by the Mexican government with the prestigious OHTLI Award. She is the author of numerous award-winning books for young readers, including Dancing Home with Gabriel Zubizarreta, My Name Is Maria Isabel, Under the Royal Palms (Pura Belpre Medal), Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and The Gold Coin (Christopher Award Medal). She lives in California, and you can visit her at


An elderly woman, Dona Josefa, sits in her hut, holding a gold coin. ``I must be the richest woman in the world,'' she says to herself. But unbeknownst to her, a thief, Juan, crouches at her window, watching and listening. When Dona Josefa leaves, Juan ransacks the hut but fails to find her treasure. Tracking the woman across the countryside, he misses her again and again--coming instead upon many people who have been helped by her. And when the thief finally does catch up with her, he is surprised to find that he, too, has been touched by her simple goodness. Set in South America, this beautifully designed book features an unusual, rewarding fable and Waldman's ( Nessa's Fish ) lovely, stylized watercolors. It's a rich collaboration, worthy of repeated readings. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)

K-Gr 3-- Juan has been a thief for many years. He is pale and bent from creeping about at night, and that's what he's doing the night he peeks into Dona Josefa's hut. She is holding a gold coin and says that she must be the richest woman in the world. Then and there, Juan determines to steal that coin, and any others she may have. It is a decision that changes Juan's life forever. This gentle story of redemption, ably translated by Randall, is structurally at once cumulative and circular, and is ideally suited for memorization and telling. It will work well as a read-aloud, too. Waldman's clean, pale watercolors have an art nouveau feel, and are large enough to be seen at story times. Whether told, read to a group, or shared one-on-one, the tale of Juan's search for an old woman's treasure makes an important point in a concise and satisfying manner. --Ann Welton, Univ . Child De velopment School, Seattle

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