The Gold Coin

The Gold Coin
La moneda de oro

RECOGNITIONS

Christo­pher Award Medal
NCSS/CBC Notable Book in the Field of Social Stud­ies
Pick of the Lists – Amer­i­can Book Sell­ers Asso­ci­a­tion
Cen­ter for Latin Amer­i­can Stud­ies, America’s Com­mended List

BOOK DESCRIPTION

This Christo­pher Medal win­ner has already become a clas­sic. While it reads as a folk­tale it is an orig­i­nal story. Try­ing to steal Doña Josefa’s gold, Juan fol­lows this gen­er­ous curan­dera through the coun­try­side. In the process, he is affected by the beauty of the nat­ural world around him, the good­will of the peo­ple who work the fields, and the spirit of the healer he is pur­su­ing. Neil Waldman’s poetic water­col­ors sen­si­tively con­vey the beauty and diver­sity of the Cen­tral Amer­i­can land­scape, as well as the inner trans­for­ma­tion that Juan undergoes.

CD DESCRIPTION

This CD con­tains the read­ing of both The Gold Coin and La mon­eda de oro. At the end of each read­ing I tell how the story came to be. Just as in record­ing some of my other favorite sto­ries, Jordi’s Star, The Mala­chite Palace, and The Uni­corn of the West it was a very mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ence for me to read aloud these books, to choose the music to accom­pany the read­ing, and to share after each record­ing the story of the cre­ation of each book.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

This was my first book pub­lished in Eng­lish by a major Amer­i­can pub­lisher. I owe my daugh­ter, Rosalma Zubizarreta, for the encour­age­ment to pur­sue many pub­lish­ers until one was will­ing to pub­lish the story. With­out her enthu­si­asm for this story, which she wanted to see in the hands of every child in the United States and her gen­tle sup­port after each rejec­tion, the book would prob­a­bly had been pub­lished abroad, in Span­ish, and prob­a­bly never reach the wide audi­ences it has reached.

The story was born one night, while return­ing home to the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, after work­ing with migrant farm-working par­ents in the Watsonville-Salinas area. It appeared in front of my eyes, as if it were a movie, and I saw the char­ac­ters act­ing and speak­ing the whole story. When I arrived home I jot­ted down the whole story before falling asleep. The next morn­ing it all seemed like a dream, but the pages were there, with the full text.

It has been an immense joy that Rosalma’s wishes mate­ri­al­ized, as the book has been included in most major read­ing series and in many read­ing lists. The let­ters I have received from chil­dren and ado­les­cents about this book are very mov­ing and I have enjoyed vis­it­ing many classes which had read the book where we have talked about our per­sonal rich­ness, and stu­dents have shown their under­stand­ing of true values.

Prob­a­bly the most extra­or­di­nary expe­ri­ence in con­nec­tion with this book was to attend the per­for­mance staged by Sylvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes (San Diego County Office of Edu­ca­tion) of The Gold Coin per­formed by stu­dents in the main plaza of the Zapotec vil­lage of Teoti­tlán del Valle in Oaxaca.

REVIEWS

Pub­lish­ers Weekly

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.

School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 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 Devel­op­ment School, Seattle.

Hun­gry Mind Review

The Gold Coin takes the inte­gra­tion of story and illus­tra­tion to the level of fine art. With marks of a clas­sic fable, this orig­i­nal tale by Alma Flor Ada describes the changes in a thief as he mis­tak­enly pur­sues the golden trea­sure of a “curan­dera” or tra­di­tional healer. In grace­ful prose Ada presents a series of adven­tures, each end­ing with the gold just out of reach of the thief. The episodes pro­ceed in a ten­sion and release rhythm; grad­u­ally Juan the thief is trans­formed through kind­ness. “Later, when the lit­tle girl took him by the hand to show him a fam­ily of rab­bits bur­rowed under a fallen tree, Juan’s face broke into a smile. It had been a long, long time since Juan had smiled.” Neil Waldman’s illus­tra­tions are mag­nif­i­cent. The text is printed on pho­tographed water­color paper, and each page is tinted in a rain­bow wash. Strong graphic ele­ments unite fac­ing pages. Postage stamp-size draw­ings hint at the next part of the story. The full-page water­color paint­ings grad­u­ally reveal more sub­tle facial fea­tures as the thief opens his heart to those around him. Of the four books [reviewed in this arti­cle] The Gold Coin exhibits the strongest unity of text and illus­tra­tion, a syn­the­sis equaled by few books of any genre. Each book how­ever, gives us a view of life drawn from within the cul­ture of la Raza. These authen­tic points of view will help increase aware­ness and appre­ci­a­tion of the beauty of the cul­tures at the heart of the Amer­i­cas.” (Hun­gry Mind Review. Fall, 1991) .

School Library Journal

[…] This gen­tle story of redemp­tion, ably trans­lated by Ran­dall, is struc­turally at once cumu­la­tive and cir­cu­lar, and 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-to-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 Devel­op­ment School. Seat­tle, School Library Jour­nal, April, 1991.

Kirkus Review

Juan, a con­firmed thief, over­hears Doña Josefa refer­ring to her­self as “the rich­est per­son in the world”; more­over, he sees a gold coin in her hand. But before he can steal it, she hur­ries away with the two men, leav­ing noth­ing of value that he can find in her hum­ble hut. Juan fol­lows her trail, only to dis­cover that she has always gone on another errand of mercy just before he arrives. The peo­ple she’s helped are will­ing to lead him to her –but each time there is work to be fin­ished first, and Juan (hop­ing to hurry his guide) joins in. As he labors and shares food with these hum­ble folk, Juan becomes health­ier in body and mind; still, when he finally catches up with Doña Josefa, he demands her gold. She gives it to him freely –thus com­plet­ing his moral trans­for­ma­tion: he returns it as a gift for the next patient. Like a folk tale, this orig­i­nal story builds nat­u­rally to its sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion; its long text should appeal well beyond the picture-book age. Waldman’s water­col­ors, with styl­ized forms dis­played against vary­ing back­grounds of roman­tic sun­set hues, gen­tly sug­gest both the story’s uni­ver­sal tone and its Latin Amer­i­can set­ting.” (Kirkus Review. Jan­u­ary 1, 1991)

The Read­ing Teacher

An unlikely friend­ship and a new per­spec­tive on life emerge in The Gold Coin, a pic­ture book by Alma Flor Ada. […] Stu­dents laughed at the frus­trated thief but were moved by the out­come of the story and the thief dis­cov­ery that friend­ship is a greater trea­sure than gold. They spoke enthu­si­as­ti­cally about Neil Waldman’s full-page, pas­tel illus­tra­tions. (The Read­ing Teacher. Vol. 47, No.1. Sep­tem­ber, 1993).

VOCABULARY ACTIVITY

Cre­ated by Shery­lanne Wesley

Write the sen­tence from the book with the word in it so that you can see how the word is used in con­text. Then write the def­i­n­i­tion. Finally, cre­ate a sen­tence of your own using the word (at least 5 words in each sen­tence).
ran­sacked
ami­ably
vague
sti­fling
insis­tent
deserted

Image Gallery

READERS’ RESPONSES


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