Children of the Benin Kingdom

Children of the Benin Kingdom

By Author / Illustrator

Dinah Orji, Sonya McGilchrist


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Dinosaur Books Ltd




Paperback / softback




Ada has lived close to the great rainforest for her whole life, helping her beloved Papa Eze to heal fellow villagers when they fall sick. But when Papa Eze himself becomes ill, he knows it's time to reveal to Ada her true heritage - time for her to travel deep into the forest to discover the ancient Edo kingdom of Benin, and to use everything within her power to heal the terrible divisions that are tearing the kingdom apart. Relying on her close friendships, the guidance of her ancestors and her own self-belief, Ada sets off on an incredible journey which tests her strengths to their limit.

A fast-paced adventure, this story brings to life one of Africa's most fascinating civilizations, the ancient Edo Kingdom of Benin. This is an immersive adventure story and perfect for any child who enjoys being transported to another world. It fits well with the increasing interest in African fiction and stories that are inclusive, diverse and explore a greater range of cultures, stories and settings.

The historical Benin Kingdom is now an option for UK primary teachers at KS2, (ages 7 - 11) and as exciting, accurate historical fiction this is the perfect reader for teachers looking to diversify their history teaching. The book includes a factual section at the end, to help readers widen their knowledge of the ancient Kingdom of Benin and West African culture and traditions. Teachers notes, linked to the text, are also available to download for free from the publishers, Dinosaur Books Ltd.



Children of the Benin Kingdom is the debut novel by Dinah Orji, a British author of Nigerian heritage. This beautifully written story is immersed in accurate historical knowledge that takes the reader on a fast-paced adventure based around an ancient West African civilisation.

Ada lives near to the great rainforest; she lives on a small farm with Papa Eze the local herbalist. Together they live a humble life and help heal the sick within the village. For many years, Papa Eze has withheld a great secret from Ada to protect her from great danger, but he is forced to reveal the secret about her true heritage when he falls unwell.

Accompanied by her true friend Mbe, Ada follows the instructions given to her by Papa Eze and travels far and wide to uncover the truth, which eventually leads her deep within the rainforest where her past will be discovered. On the path of the hunters, often Ada and her friends are the ones being hunted and this journey is a test of strength, self-belief, faith and bravery in the face of warriors and chiefs who show no mercy.

When reading this book, you become completely absorbed into the culture of the West African people. From the language to the lifestyle, you are taken on a journey with Ada and exposed to the importance of ancestors, voices, and stories.

The book enables you to live the history of a heritage that is not widely covered by the curriculum, but if it was used to support the teaching of ancient civilisations would help broaden and diversify the knowledge about West African culture and traditions that children have in Upper Key Stage 2. It would also be an excellent class read because the story is rich and gripping and is everything you need to capture the essence of story time.

216 pages / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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