Review of Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Intermediate, Middle School    Heartdrum/HarperCollins    320 pp.    g
2/21    978-0-06-286994-4    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-286996-8    $9.99

Through this linked anthology by seventeen contributors, readers experience “What Is a Powwow?” (the title of Kim Rogers’s opening poem), as characters converge in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow. Rory begins to heal from his father’s abusive words and embrace his Indigenous heritage (“Fancy Dancer” by Monique Gray Smith). Aiden travels with his foster parents to meet his brother and dance in his first powwow (David A. Robertson’s “Brothers”). Amber, whose sister battled cancer, receives a new dress for the Jingle Dance (“Secret and Surprises” by Traci Sorell). Some of the attendees live locally, while others travel from places including Oklahoma and Missouri; some live in the city, while others live on the reservation. This anthology offers readers a variety of images of Native children while also introducing them to vocabulary from several different Indigenous languages, compiled in an appended glossary. According to Rogers’s poem: “A powwow is / friends and family / …a way to remember those / who’ve passed on / …a place for belly-laughing / …healing / and soul-soothing,” and this volume reflects all of those elements and more. Notes and acknowledgments, contributor bios, and an editor’s note are appended.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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