THE HIDDEN STAR - UK Cassava Republic cover.jpg

THE HIDDEN STAR, K. Sello Duiker’s magical story of one girl’s quest to change things for the better, is now available in the US from Cassava Republic. A captivating tale for young readers, THE HIDDEN STAR, has previously been brought to audiences in Nigeria, West Africa and the UK by Cassava Republic, and was first published by Penguin Random House South Africa’s imprint Umuzi.

Eleven-year-old Nolitye lives in a shack with her mother Thembi in Phola, a dusty township on the edge of Johannesburg. She loves maths and collecting stones, which she keeps in a bucket under her bed. She also has magical powers: she can communicate with dogs.

Nolitye’s granny used to say: ‘If you mess with a woman, you mess with a stone,’ and when Nolitye finds a magical stone on the dusty streets of Phola, her granny's words take on a new meaning. Along with her two friends — pampered Bheki, and Four Eyes, a reformed member of the Spoilers gang led by Rotten Nellie — Nolitye puts the powers of the stone to good use. For the first time the threesome can stand up to the Spoilers, Nolitye can save the life of Rex, the leader of a pack of talking township mutts, and dare to look scary MaMtonga — with her living brown-and-green snake necklace — in the eye.

But soon Nolitye finds out that the purplish-blue magic stone is one of five needed to put right things that started to go wrong the day her father died in a mining accident when she was five years old. Or so she was told by her mother... Merging a cast of characters from African myth and folklore with everyday township life, K. Sello Duiker created a magical world and a truly wondrous quest that will appeal to an ageless audience.

By his untimely death, K. Sello Duiker had published various short stories and two novels. THIRTEEN CENTS was awarded the Commonwealth Prize for a first novel, while THE QUIET VIOLENCE OF DREAMS was translated into four languages, and won the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Literature. THE HIDDEN STAR was published posthumously.


‘An absorbing story about friendship and courage’ – BookTrust

‘Magic and mythology mingle with everyday life in this engaging tale about a girl who discovers a powerful magic stone...a pleasurable fantasy story with a strong nod to mythology. Readers will warm to Nolitye and her relatable run-ins with the school bully and will delight at the quirky details of Duiker's magic in an otherwise realistic setting… A satisfying fantasy story in a place not often represented in the genre. Recommended for most middle grade collections where fantasy is popular.’ – School Library Journal

‘Entertaining and pacy, but it succeeds in evoking the innocence and curiosity of a child, while communicating larger truths about the vulnerability of human beings…I got goose-bumps reading it.’ – Fred Khumalo, The Sunday Times Lifestyle

‘A fantastic journey from inside the cardboard-covered, corrugated iron walls of her shack into a world of African myth and folklore…This will enchant all young readers.’ – Kate Turkington,

‘Duiker has taken South African fiction to another level with this convincing mix of the experiences of a child growing up in a modern township …It’s a truly wonderful novel whose words flow like poetry, taking you into another world.’ – Angelique Serrao, The Saturday Star