Title: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Editor: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley
Availability: On shelves now
Summary: Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog). They are the heroes of their own stories.
Featuring stories and poems by: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Carole Lindstrom, Dawn Quigley, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, Brian Young, In partnership with We Need Diverse Books
Review: Whether you've been to many powwows or none, this book will touch your heart. Kim Rogers starts things off brilliantly with a definition poem that will introduce the uninitiated and bring memories to mind for those who've had powwows as part of their lives. A powwow has so many facets and many are explored briefly in the poem, but then more thoroughly in the stories that follow.
Monique Gray Smith brought tears to my eyes right from the start. So much of the powwow experience is about connection and family, healing and belonging. She is able to show this through a lovely relationship developing between a step-parent and child.
The individual stories have connections beyond just the fact that everyone is attending the same powwow. Within the first few stories we meet characters that will have cameos in some of the other stories. One of my favorites is Rez dog. This dog bobs and weaves through many of the stories bringing smiles and even creating some helpful changes for folks. This critter helps demonstrate a sense of community and belonging.
There are stories that show forgiveness and healing. There are stories that let us see resilience and strength. Readers also get to see the joy of the dance and the pulse of the drum.
One of the best aspects of this book is the many perspectives. The characters are coming from many different states with different types of transportation from a wide variety of tribes and everyone is coming with their own hopes and ideas about what will happen during this weekend. No two people are having the same exact experience, but they are all connected by what happens at this event at this moment in time. Carole Lindstrom's poem at the end brings it all back to a circle explaining that we are all related.
Recommendation: This book is a delight. I recommend it for any home, school, or public library or for any place serving young people.