Cover Image: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

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Member Reviews

I typically don't enjoy short stories as much as novels, but I really liked the way all the stories in this anthology were tied together by all having taken place in reference to the same pow-wow. I liked seeing all the different representations and learning about some of the culture and traditions. A great own voices book!
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I 100% loved this book. So many different stories, different traditions and view points that all come together in this one gymnasium in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the intertribal powwow, Dance for Mother Earth. Every story was connected in some way, and it was fun to pick up on those intersections. This book offers so much traditional and cultural information from so many different tribes and walks of life, where one can learn about food and dress and stories; about prejudices and trauma, connection and family. I also enjoyed the glossary at the end.

Although I enjoyed every story, I did have a few favorites. In Fancy Dancer by Monique Gray Smith, Rory finds connection to family, old and new, through dance, while dealing with the trauma of an abusive father, who is no longer in his life physically but still is very present in Rory’s mind. Bad Dog by Joseph Bruchach was also a favorite of mine, as was What We Know About Glaciers by Christine Day. But my very favorite was Indian Price by Eric Gansworth. I thought that story just had so many layers to unwrap and examine and learn from.

One reason I wanted to read this book is because I have actually attended this powwow, as a college student way back when. Billy and I went for one one of my classes, we tried Fry Bread, sat in the stands as the dancers made their way in to the sound of the drumbeats, felt the excitement that was charging the air around us. At the time, I admit, I had no real idea of what I was actually witnessing and participating in by attending. So much went over my head, and now, as an adult who has read more and experienced more, I can look back and see what I didn’t see then. I am hoping to take Wyatt to this powwow in a year or two, as it is open door to anyone who wants to go. To quote Fancy Dancer, “Native people travel from all over to go to powwows, but non-Natives are welcome too. That’s part of the beauty of the powwow, the sharing of cultures.” I look forward to the next time we go, this time taking with us more knowledge.

This book is a wonderful collection of stories for middle grades, and I highly recommend it for any classroom or home library!
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Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia L. Smith is a beautiful collection of short stories the center Native American traditions and how intertwined different tribes are. I have brought these short stories into many classrooms in both ELA and Social Studies and my students love these stories.
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This anthology highlights the joy, strength, and pride of being Native-American, and I just loved this so much. This story radiates so much love and hope, and a celebration of Native-American culture and tradition.
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I loved these joyful stories that celebrate kids at various points of their cultural awakening and celebration. Intersection was also wonderful.
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The various authors behind Ancestor Approved did a great job bringing together their voices to make one collective, smooth story out of various parts. I had so many favorite stories in this one. "Rez Dog Rules" is from the point of view of a dog and has excellent kid appeal. I loved the juxtaposition of respectful participation from Aidan's foster parents in "Brothers" versus the in many ways disrespectful participation from Potter's friends in "Indian Price". I cracked up at Alan and Kevin's very unflattering descriptions of one another in Brian Young's companion stories, "Senecavajo: Alan's Story" and "Squash Blossom Bracelet: Kevin's Story". I think my favorite of the whole bunch may have been "Bad Dog".


The backmatter of this book contained a glossary which I loved. These stories often use languages other than English: Cree, Choctaw, Ojibwe, Cherokee, Tuscarora/Haudenonsaunee, Navajo, and Abenaki. While I didn't feel I needed a glossary to understand the stories, it was helpful to refer to it once I was finished reading this one.


Ultimately, Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids was a 5 star read for me. This middle grade selection of short stories is full of emotion, humor, pride, and joy.
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All of the stories in this book are written by different Native American authors, but they all intertwine to tell one complete story of a pow wow in Michigan. Natives from all over the U.S. come to this pow wow to dance, sell their goods and to get together with family and friends. From the dog wearing an Ancestor Approved t-shirt to the girl detective there is a little bit of everything for everyone. Highly recommended and just a whole lot of fun.
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5 stars!  Absolutely adored this short story collection that all centers around one powwow in Michigan.  Each story was very unique but they all intertwined so flawlessly!  Highly recommend!
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It's a wonderfully written own-voices book of short stories that are all intertwined around a large intertribal powwow. There's a story here for everyone. The kids all have different interests and home lives but are still brought together to celebrate Native joy and pride.
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First, I was attracted to the cover illustration, which I think is great. Then, I was attracted to the title, thinking it was going to be a collection of family history stories (because of the word Ancestor in the title). What it is, however, is a collection of 16 contemporary short stories and two poems that are centered around the University of Michigan powwow that is held each year at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan (except 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19).

The stories begin with a poem called "What is a Powwow?" by Kim Rogers who writes that it is about family, friends, and remembering those who have passed on, it is also dancing in regalia made with love, and eating fry bread and corn soup, and healing and soul-soothing. And these are just some aspects of what you will find in the stories that follow. 

One of the things I really loved about this collection is the way they connect to each other. Characters show up in different stories. For example, there is a story called "Joey Reads the Sky" by Dawn Quigley. Joey's mom sells the World Best Fry Bread and this fry bread stand also briefly appears in "Bad Dog"  by Joseph Bruchac and "Between the Lines" by Cynthia Leitich Smith. One of my favorite stories is called "Rez Dog Rules" by Rebecca Roanhorse, about a dog named Ozzie with no master who travels to the Powwow with Marino. Marino is hoping to sell his silk screen T-shirts celebrating Native identity and culture to help out his grandma. At one point, Ozzie wiggles into a T-shirt that says Ancestor Approved on it and becomes a walking advertisement. The story is told from Ozzie's point of view, and he briefly appears in "Flying Together" by Kim Rogers, "Brothers" by David A. Robertson, "Wendigos Don't Dance" by Art Coulson, "Senecavajo: Alan's Story" by Brian Young, "What We Know About Glaciers" by Christine Day, and "Between the Line"s by Cynthis Leitich Smith. Connecting the stories to each other like this gives the reader a sense of continuity and the sense like they are also there, to the point where I could feel the beat of the drums as the dancers danced. And I could most definitely taste the fry bread, one of my favorite things about having lived in Arizona for a while.

The stories are varied, ranging from lighthearted to very serious. There are a number of different nations represented, including Ojibwa, Choctaw, Cree, Cherokee, Navajo, Haudenosaunee, and Abenaki, and there is a smattering of words in the various Native languages throughout. I was also stunned by the impressive descriptions of the regalia that is made and worn by the dancers. By the end of the book, I had developed a much deeper appreciation for the importance of Powwow than I had had before, mainly because these stories were so informative about them. And yes, anyone can go to a powwow, just learn what the etiquette is if you are not Native.  

Back matter includes Notes and Acknowledgements for each story and the poems, and a Glossary of all the Native words used in the stories and the Nation they belong to. This is followed by short biographies of the different writers.

Ancestor Approved is a wonderful collection that introduces young readers, as Cynthia Leitich Smith writes, to "the diversity of the intertribal Native and First Nations community, of each Indigenous Nation within it, and of young Native heroes." I was so happy to read this and discover they are perfect for middle grade readers because so often anthologies like this are geared toward young adult readers and, believe me, these are stories not to be missed. 

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
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None of these stories really blew me away and eventually they felt a little redundant in the way that they tried to force a bit of crossover between the stories.

I like that most of these stories were kind of an everyday story and I did learn a lot about Native cultures. The narrators felt authentic and like read kids (and I guess one was a dog!)
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This ended up being a really fascinating read for me. Each story is intertwined in a really natural way. Characters in one story pop up in the background of another, named or not. But what else was fascinating is how I felt like an outsider and <i>enjoyed it</i>. The natural way each author brought their culture and languages set me as the outsider from the get go. Yet, this book feels so welcoming! Readers can learn as they go, without feeling like they're "learning". Overall, this is a really welcome, and vital, addition to any collection.
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More collections like this, please! I feel like indigenous works are having a moment, and it's both long overdue and way underdone. A must-have.
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A great collection of short stories told through the point of view of indigenous youth attending a pow-wow.  At first it seems like the stories are stand alone, but as you read, you start noticing details and people that appeared in previous stories.
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I can really appreciate the OwnVoices and the telling of Native stories all based around a Pow Wow.  At first, I really loved how the stories were intertwining.  To be honest, it got old for me and I didn't feel that all the stories were very well done.  I will definitely purchase for my library because it's not all about me and my own tastes.
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I am very excited about this book and about the Heartdrum imprint. Libraries and readers have been lacking enough access to Native American stories written by Native Americans. I love how this book both has short stories by different authors with different characters and stories but with a common thread of everyone heading to the same Pow Wow. This will be a great addition to 5th grade curriculum in my state where tribes and Native American history is one of the focus areas. I plan to purchase a copy for each of our 5th grade classrooms.
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This anthology fills a critical need in the portrayal of the current experiences of Native American and First Nation  tribes as they converge for the annual Dance for Mother Earth in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Food, dance, music, crafts, tradition, and the collective memory ot the tribes are passed from one generation to the next. The individual short stories, written by Native authors, share characters which bind the stories together.  This is a must for all libraries, and I will definitely be pulling it off my shelf to reread.
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Ancestor Approved is a collection of short stories written by different native authors, all centered around a Powwow taking place in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

I really enjoyed this collection. Some of the stories were more engaging than others, but the central event of the Powwow really helped to unify the stories. It was nice to see what a day in the life is like for different characters coming from diverse native backgrounds. I especially enjoyed the recurrence of the little dog in the t-shirt, and I’m sure young readers will as well. I would recommend this to anyone looking for contemporary short stories and fiction. While written and advertised as a children’s book, I think readers of all ages would benefit from reading this perspective.
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Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids is a groundbreaking anthology collection. Each chapter could be read as a standalone story, but the richness in understanding and breadth of experience are what make the collection as a whole a standout. The chapters get better as you go because the stories become more entwined with one another, furthering the beautiful message of the closing poem "Circles." 

Some of my favorite chapters included "Secrets and Surprises" by Traci Sorell, "Wendigos Don't Dance" by Art Coulson, and "Indian Price" by Eric Gansworth, but the entire anthology offers so much in terms of reflection for indigenous readers, and education and insight for white readers. The book is packed with social-emotional learning moments, and like a powwow - where everyone is welcome - the reader may engage with multiple and multi-faceted tribal traditions including dress style in regalia, food, legends, music style, and my favorite, a variety of native languages now found in one book. 

Additional resources are provided with a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back, translating each word or phrase into english. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Yes to Native American modern day stories! I started out not sure of this book not realizing that all the stories were intertwined. As the book moved forward the more entwined all the different stories became, it was fun to try and connect the dots with all the different stories. The multiple points of view and different authors gave this book a certain element I haven't seen before. Finally a native book set in modern day times with modern issues for kids. About time!
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