Children of the Stone City

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Oct. 2022. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063096967.
Gr 5-7–Twelve-year-old Adam and his sister Leila live in Stone City, a society divided into the ruling class called Permitteds and the lower class called Nons. Despite the disadvantages of being Nons, Adam and Leila enjoy going to school and taking music lessons. When their father dies suddenly, they must worry about their mother losing her permit to stay in Stone City. Then Adam is arrested when he and his friend Zak are falsely accused of attacking a group of Permitted teens. Adam fights to clear his name and save his mother from being displaced. 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 in present tense from both Adam’s and Leila’s points of view. Adam’s chapters include occasional free verse poems. The character names are a mixture of Israeli and Arabic. While the dystopian worldbuilding is limited and young readers may not connect the classical music references, they will find themselves immersed in Adam’s desperate struggle.
VERDICT Recommended for students who enjoy books about characters overcoming injustice, such as Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden.

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