Children of the Stone City

“Adam!” Leila grabbed the canvas schoolbag on his shoulder. His violin case swung around, narrowly missing the horse’s front shin, and collided into her flute case. For a moment, Adam saw his own fright mirrored in the shining eye of the horse. The policeman’s eyes were hidden behind dark glasses.

Adam and his sister Leila are Nons—second-class citizens, living under the Permitted ruling class. Though their life in the Stone City is filled with family, stories, and music, they must carefully follow the rules, have all paperwork on hand, and never, ever do anything to anger a Permitted.

So when Adam’s friend Zak plays a bold prank on a group of Permitted boys, and Adam is implicated in Zak’s “crime,” Adam knows their lives will never be the same again.

A timely, powerful, relevant story. (Fiction. 10-14)

  – Kirkus Reviews, USA

Naidoo creates a dystopian allegory illustrating the divisions existing among societies around the world and the need to stand up for equality and justice… The story is told…from both Adam’s and Leila’s points of view. Adam’s chapters include occasional free verse poems… [Readers] will find themselves ­immersed in Adam’s desperate struggle.

– School Library Journal, USA

Well-developed characters, weighty themes, and a quick pace, along with evocative use of metaphor characterize this substantial novel.

Horn Book Magazine

“a testament…to the communal power of friendship, family and music.”

– Big Issue Best of 2022 Children’s Books for 11+, UK

UKLA BOOK AWARDS 2024 Longlist for 11-14+ 

In Adam, Leila and Zak, Naidoo has reached into the playful, creative hearts of young people living in a deeply segregated city… In their dreams and their bravery, a torch light of hope is lit by Naidoo’s lyrical prose and passed onto readers themselves living in a deeply divided world.

– Sita Brahmachari, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Winner

Beverley Naidoo writes:
“Is Justice sleeping or is it a dream? If Justice is sleeping, who will wake Justice up?”
How do you answer such questions which contain such huge shadows? My young questioners came from refugee families. Although long ago, I’ve never forgotten them. In the end, I decided I needed to write a novel to explore how it might feel to wonder whether Justice is only a dream or sleeping... and, if it’s sleeping, “who will wake Justice up?”