Middle grade Short Story Anthology

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for kids

Edited by Cynthia L. Smith

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Summary from Goodreads:

A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.

Featured contributors: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Dawn Quigley, Carole Lindstrom, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, and Brian Young.

ARC provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

The story anthologies that I like the best are the ones where the stories not only share a theme, but also have some sort of common element running through it. For this book it is the Intertribal PowWow that takes place every year in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Because of the stories all basically having the same setting, you really get a sense of what it is like to be at a powwow, and how important they are to all of the characters in these stories.

While all of these stories and two poems, were captivating and wonderfully done, there were a few that really stood out to me.

Rez Dog Rules by Rebecca Roanhorse stands out because it is narrated by a rez dog named Ozzie. I really liked Ozzie and his desire to be totally free, yet understands that the humans around him are important too, and that they always help him as well. I really liked how Ozzie is seen in other stories too by other characters as they roam the powwow.

Wendigos don’t Dance by Art Coulson was also quite fun. Which is the story of Jace and his two uncles experience at the powwow. One of the uncles goes off looking for a wendigo and gets more than he bargained for.

Joey Reads the Sky by Dawn Quigley was perhaps my favorite as it had a bit of magical realism in it. Joey was a lovely character who struggles in school, but knows that perhaps his strengths lie in his ability to read the sky, which can be more important than school smarts.

All of the stories were well done and had distinctive characters that all had a love for their families and their communities. The modern setting of all of the stories was also a nice way of introducing non-natives to some of the traditions and customs of the various tribes. This is an anthology that I highly recommend to all schools and libraries.

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