Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: K. Sello Duiker
Publisher: Cassava Republic
In a shack in Phola, a suburb of Johannesburg, lives eleven-year-old Nolitye, a girl whose nickname is “Keeper of the Stone.” She as the ability to speak to the township’s dogs and loves to collect stones. She soon realizes her hobby could save her family. One piece of stone she finds has magical powers. She must find the other five pieces to prevent Ncitjana, The Mean One, and his helpers from causing anymore evil. Nolitye and her two friends embark on a quest to find the pieces of stone, cross over to the underworld to defeat Ncitjana, and reunite her family.
Duiker weaves an imaginative tale from beginning to end. It begins in a realistic world including realistic challenges with bullying, hunger, school, and neighbors, and gives insight into the culture of a South African township. As the story unfolds, more of the magical realm comes to life, introducing magical powers and characters, trickery, and the underworld, where folklore and myth intertwine. Nolitye is a strong, clever, curious, and heartfelt character who will relate to a variety of readers. In the end, the “hidden star” or the stone represents hidden knowledge. When that knowledge is discovered and shared, it defeats evil, liberates the innocent from bondage, and provides understanding to the past.