Cindy and Jack are visiting a museum when they are magically transported through one of the displays into ancient Africa. In the middle of the jungle, the children meet a man with a beautiful flute who escorts them to the royal palace to meet the king of the Edo empire. There they find court intrigue and a royal secret.
I loved this fun story! The history is really interesting and we get to learn about the culture of the Edo empire (also called the Benin Kingdom) in ancient Nigeria. It was an amazing kingdom with roads and infrastructure and walled cities and trade. The king was called the Oba, and Cindy and Jack get to meet the Queen as well. I loved reading about the unique customs and manners of the people, their greetings and social hierarchy. Everything from the way they built their homes to the way they ate their food had a special organization to it.
The plot is simple enough for a child to follow, but also interesting enough to keep my attention. I love the straightforward writing style. There is a charm to the writing that draws the reader in.
I loved the interesting characters! Cindy and Jack are just normal kids, but they are quite intelligent to pick up on all the subtle mannerisms of their new friends. They adapt quickly to the culture, and they are wise to avoid any major faux pas.
It was very interesting to learn about the Oba and his family. The royal characters are likeable and mysterious. The characters who are servants and hunters are more fun and relaxed though.
There are also slaves in this society, who serve and do the difficult work. I think it’s appropriate that that aspect of this ancient culture was not brushed under the rug. It’s important to learn this history, so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. There are also some mentions of human sacrifice, and the Oba says that he is trying to convince the priests to do away with human sacrifice. The Edo empire was not a perfect society, and I like that this book shows us the good with the bad.
This was such a fun read! I love Ruth Chew’s writing!