“This simple story of discovery, sport, and friendship is filled with likable characters and innocently joyful moments...Delightful.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Kenyan orphans, Kitoo and Nigosi, spend their days studying, playing soccer, helping their elders with chores around the orphanage and reading from the limited selection of books in their library. When the librarian gives Kitoo a copy of Sports Around the World he becomes fascinated by an image of the Canadian national men's ice hockey team. Then one day the fates align and Kitoo finds a pair of beat up old roller blades, he teaches himself to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey like the men in his book. But you can’t play ice hockey in Kenya, can you?
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Text copyright © Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters 2020 Illustrations copyright © Claudia Dávila 2020
Printed in Canada and the United States in 2020 by Orca Book Publishers.orcabook.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: Hockey night in Kenya / Danson Mutinda, Eric Walters ; illustrated by Claudia Dávila. Names: Mutinda, Danson, author. | Walters, Eric, 1957– author. | Dávila, Claudia, illustrator. Series: Orca echoes. Description: Series statement: Orca echoes Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20200184660 | Canadiana (ebook) 20200184679 | ISBN 9781459823617 (softcover) | ISBN 9781459823624 (PDF) | ISBN 9781459823631 (EPUB) Classification: LCCPR9381.9.M86 H63 2020 | DDC j823/.92—dc23
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020931809
Summary: In this illustrated short chapter book, two Kenyan orphans get to experience the joy of playing ice hockey.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover artwork and interior illustrations by Claudia Dávila
Printed and bound in Canada.
23 22 21 20 • 1 2 3 4
For Henry, a dear father and friend.
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The Story Behind the Story
While the story about Kitoo and Nigosi is made up, there is a great deal of truth in it.
It takes place in the Republic of Kenya, a country that sits directly on the equator. This is perhaps one of the last countries in which you would expect ice hockey to exist. In 2005 in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the first ice rink in all of East Africa opened at the Panari Sky Centre Hotel. Although the rink is small, measuring only 105 feet (32 meters) by 39 feet (12 meters), it is home to the Kenya Ice Lions, Kenya’s only ice-hockey team. As of this writing, the team is made up of thirty players, most of whom began skating on rollerblades. The team is led by captain Ben Azegere, and their ultimate goal is going to the 2022 Olympics. The players recently traveled to Canada, a trip sponsored by Canadian coffee-and-donut chain Tim Hortons, and had an opportunity to play against and train with a team that included some NHL players.
The orphanage portrayed in the book is the Hope Development Centre, which was founded in 2007 by my parents, Henry and Ruth Kyatha, and Eric and Anita Walters. It’s in a small community, Kikima, in the Mbooni district, which is about 68 miles (110 kilometers) from Nairobi. With the passing of my father, I became the patron of the program. Eric was made an elder more than a decade ago and is an important member of the community.
As of this writing there are eighty children in the residence, another sixty-four in residence in high school, college or university, and another twenty-five who reside in the homes of extended family members. In addition, more than forty of our young people have graduated from college, university or trade school. These graduates include a banker, an IT specialist, teachers, researchers, auto mechanics, hospitality-industry members and hairdressers.
The orphanage described in the story is a beautiful big blue building that sits on the grounds of my family homestead, or shamba. This is the area where my ancestors have lived for thousands of years. The building and the children who reside there are right outside the front window of my home.
Members of the Kenyan hockey team visited our orphanage. During their visit, they played a three-hour game of floor hockey with the children in the dining hall. It was a great treat for the kids to engage in a sport that most of them had never heard of, let alone played. The team promised to visit again, and you can imagine how much the kids anticipate their next visit!
“The test is now finished,” Mr. Mutinda said.
The students all put down their pencils. Kitoo had already completed all the questions and was checking his answers for the second time. Kitoo was a good student, and he took care with his work. He looked over at his best friend, Nigosi, and gave him a look as if to ask, Did you do okay?
Nigosi gave him a small smile and a thumbs-up. Kitoo was happy for his friend.
“Leave the tests on your desk as you depart for your lunch meal,” Mr. Mutinda ordered.
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