If you live in Canada, you may know the story of Kenya’s only hockey team. Members of the team travelled to Canada, thanks to franchise Tim Hortons, to play and train with NHL players.

The same hockey team is the inspiration behind Hockey Night in Kenya by Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters.

Mutinda is the patron of the Hope Development Centre, an orphanage portrayed in the book that was founded by his parents, Henry and Ruth Kyatha, and Eric and Anita Walters.

While the story about “Kitoo and Nigosi is made up, there is a great deal of truth in it,” Mutinda writes. The orphanage, which sits on Mutinda’s homestead, is real as is the fact the Kenyan hockey team visited with the children, playing floor hockey 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.”

In Hockey Night in Kenya, Kitoo, who receives several heavily damaged books becomes fascinated with one: Sports Around the World, which features the Canadian national ice hockey team.

“When the fates align and Kitoo finds a pair of beat-up old (inline skates), he teaches himself to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey like the athletes in his book. But you can’t pay ice hockey in Kenya, can you?”

I quite enjoyed this book about Kenyan orphans Kitoo and his friend best Nigosi. The pair have a great friendship, encouraging each other to be the best, while embracing their differences and their similarities.

It was a neat look at life at a Kenyan orphanage, and how these children make the best of their situation. I love how hard Kitoo tries to excel at this unique-to-him sport and his determination to succeed.

Hockey Night in Kenya is set to be released Sept. 15. It’s published by Orca Echoes, which offers short chapter books aimed at readers between ages seven and nine.

I interviewed Eric Walters for Book Time. Read that Q&A here:

Watch the video about Kenyan Hockey Team in Canada: