The Gold Coin, Paperback/Alma Flor Ada
Juan has been a thief for many, many years. So many, in fact, that he can't even remember what it's like to be anything else. When he tries to steal Dona Josefa's gold, something strange begins to happen to Juan. His skin becomes tan instead of pale, his body straight instead of bent, and his mouth smiles instead of scowls. Juan also begins to remember things. He remembers eating good, home-cooked food, being among friends, and laughing. When the opportunity arrives for him to take Dona Josefa's gold, another strange thing happens. Juan realizes he can't. Maybe he isn't a thief anymore. Set against a Central American background, this is a story of love and faith in the human spirit.