Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved cover
Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Heartdrum/ HarperCollins, 2021
320 pages

Ages 9-14

A bustling anthology of 16 short stories framed by opening and closing poems all connect to the annual intertribal powwow in Ann Arbor. Readers are immersed in the sights, sounds, energy, and emotions of a powwow experience as diverse Native protagonists, most older children and young teens (and one rez dog), prepare for, travel to, and converge on the event for a variety of reasons: They’re experienced or novice powwow dancers; vendors’ kids helping to sell the “World’s Best Fry Bread” or corn soup or jewelry on the powwow circuit; one is a wryly resigned traveler with a lively group of Choctaw Elders; another is staying with his cousin while his professor parents speak at the university. Their reasons for being there are sometimes an aside to the plot of their particular stories, which are thoughtful, funny, probing, or all of the above. Most of the characters are strongly connected to their Native culture and identities; one is just starting to explore his Native heritage, another is challenged to consider questions of identity and belonging through another’s eyes. The contributors collaborated to reference one another’s characters, allowing the work as a whole to mirror the interconnectedness of an intertribal powwow experience. Across stories that read with ease, each of these characters from a number of different North American Indigenous cultures illuminate a facet of the complexity of Native identity and experience in a collection that is purposeful, affirming, and always entertaining.  ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center