Hockey Night in Kenya

Authors: Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters

Illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Release Date: October 13, 2020

Reviewer: Kathie

Thank you to Eric Walters for sending me an eARC of this story.

This is a story I will definitely be adding to my collection. It’s a chapter book set in Kenya where two boys, Kitoo and Nigosi, share with the reader what life looks like for them in their orphanage. Kitoo loves books and reading, Nigosi loves soccer and learning to fix trucks. Kitoo learns about hockey from a book about sports around the world, and dreams of playing some day. When he comes across a pair of broken and discarded roller blades, and some players offer to share spare parts, Nigosi helps fix up a pair of skates so Kitoo can learn how to play. One thing leads to another, and Kitoo’s dream of learning to play ice hockey may be closer than he thinks.

There are too few realistic chapter books with Black male protagonists, and I really loved that this book took a sport that many Canadian children take for granted, and shows readers a new perspective of it. Danson Mutinda, one of the authors of this books, grew up in Kenya, and I cannot think of another ownvoices chapter book that’s available to Canadian readers that would show them a world so different from their own. I also love how supportive Kitoo and Nigosi are of each other; though they have different interests, they respect and acknowledge what’s important to the other person.

This is a must add to school and public libraries in Canada, but I think it’s relatable enough that I’d love to see it find an audience beyond that our borders.