Review of Children of the Stone City

Children of the Stone City Children of the Stone City
by Beverley Naidoo
Intermediate, Middle School     Quill Tree/HarperCollins    240 pp.         g
10/22     978-0-06-309696-7     $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-309698-1    $11.99

White South African writer and apartheid fighter ­Naidoo ( Journey to Jo’burg , 1985) sets her novel in the fictional Stone City, where the population is divided into “­Permitteds” and “Nons.” It’s a dangerous place for Nons: Permitteds can confiscate their homes, and it is easy for Nons to land in jail. Adam, almost thirteen, and his younger sister, Leila, are the musically talented children of Nons. After their father suddenly dies with their mother’s required annual paperwork not yet approved (without it she will be deported), Adam decides to take advantage of an upcoming concert to draw attention to their situation. But his energetic and mischievous neighbor Zak tangles with some Permitteds, landing both boys in detention—a terrifying experience that puts them and their families at risk. A precious violin and diaries in which Adam writes poetry and Leila writes letters play important roles in the outcome. Well-developed characters, weighty themes, and a quick pace, along with evocative use of metaphor (e.g., Adam’s mother’s “arms hung down at her sides. For a moment he thought of broken wings”), distinguish this substantial novel.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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