cover image Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Heartdrum, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-286994-4

In a letter to reviewers, editor Smith (enrolled Muscogee Creek) describes this anthology as a “sampling of the many rising Indigenous voices who are changing children’s literature for the better.” Using the framework of an intertribal powwow, 17 Indigenous authors craft stories that explore themes such as ethnic identity and ancestry. The rhythmic “What Is a Powwow?” by Kim Rogers (Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) first establishes the event as one “where our hearts beat as one/ to the thump of the drum.” In enrolled Onondaga author Eric Gans-worth’s thought-provoking “Indian Price,” two cousins in different living situations connect for the first time. Family is also central to the inspiring “Secrets and Surprises” by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), which celebrates how Native cultures can support others—an idea threaded throughout. The most engaging entries detail aspects of Native culture alongside universal themes: sisters learn to navigate a changing relationship in “What We Know About Glaciers” by Christine Day (Upper Skagit), while two stories by Brian Young (Diné/Navajo) showcase the same events from the eyes of two frenemies. It’s a wonderful introduction to the included authors’ work and a persuasive encouragement to seek out more Indigenous stories. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Feb.) [/em]