Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, by Cynthia L. Smith

greenlivingaudioworm's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional funny informative inspiring lighthearted reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


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geeky_spider's review

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funny lighthearted fast-paced


whitwein's review

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funny informative medium-paced


tamtasticbooks's review

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adventurous lighthearted relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A


maya_reads_books's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


whimsicalish's review against another edition

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hopeful informative lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


susannelucyluisa's review against another edition

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emotional funny hopeful lighthearted medium-paced


emeelee's review against another edition

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As I said in my review for This Is Our Rainbow, I often end up rating anthologies 3 stars because the nature of the anthology results in a mixed bag. Despite that, I still enjoy reading them and lately there have been so many amazing and important collections being published that focus on underrepresented voices. Ancestor Approved is a middle grade anthology of stories that all take place at the same event: an intertribal powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 16 authors communicated to ensure that the stories feel interconnected with common through-lines and character cross-appearances. My favorites ended up being the stories that specifically dealt with themes of identity, but even those that didn't still provided insight into various tribes' cultures and the importance of powwows as a place of community.

I listened to this anthology via audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings. The audiobook had two narrators: Kenny Ramos read the male characters' stories and DeLanna Studi read the female characters'. The overall production was good, but there was some noticeable audio unevenness where you could tell multiple takes had been spliced together.

What is a Powwow by Kim Rogers (Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) ★★★☆☆
Really nice opening poem to introduce the setting and the meaning behind powwows.

Fancy Dancer by Monique Gray Smith (Cree and Lakota Nations) ★★★☆☆
Touching story about developing pride in your heritage through bonding with others that share it.

Flying Together by Kim Rogers (Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)
This was just fine for me, but I appreciate the representation of a military family.

Warriors of Forgiveness by Tim Tingle (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) ★★★☆☆
I liked the messages about respect for elders, and mercy and restorative justice.

Brothers by David A. Robertson (Norway House Cree Nation) ★★★★☆ (3.5)
Such a sweet story about finding belonging and family.

Rez Dog Rules by Rebecca Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh) ★★★★☆
Fun and surprisingly poignant tale from the POV of a rez dog named Ozzie.

Secrets and Surprises by Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation) ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
The surprise was obvious, but the reveal was very touching.

Wendigos Don't Dance by Art Coulson (Cherokee Nation) ★★☆☆☆
A lot of this was from an adult's POV, and that's where the bulk of the story was, which seemed out of place in this collection. I liked the idea of cryptid hunters and focusing on Native folktales and beliefs, but the helpful nature of the possible wendigo (a malevolent spirit) felt a little weird to me? (Not my lane, take with a grain of salt.)

Indian Price by Eric Gansworth (Onondaga Nation) ★★★★☆
This one was really interesting, with a theme of cultural appropriation that didn't feel like it was spoon-feeding the moral to the reader. I had never heard of the Order of the Arrow, but it is big yikes. My favorite story of the collection.

Senecavajo: Alan’s Story and Squash Blossom Bracelet: Kevin’s Story by Brian Young (Navajo Nation) ★★★☆☆ (2.5)
These were an interesting pair of short stories-- the same story told from two different perspectives. The writing wasn't to my taste, but the themes were illuminating.

Joey Reads the Sky by Dawn Quigley (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) ★★☆☆☆
Loved the idea and the neurodivergent rep; the writing style didn't vibe with me.

What We Know About Glaciers by Christine Day (Upper Skagit Tribe) ★★★☆☆
This was a nice story about sisters.

Little Fox and the Case of the Missing Regalia by Erika Wurth (Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee Nations) ★★☆☆☆
A bit boring imo.

The Ballad of Maggie Wilson by Andrea L. Rogers (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) ★★★☆☆ (2.5)
My feelings are pretty middle-of-the-road for this one.

Bad Dog by Joseph Bruchac (Nulhegan Abenaki citizen) ★★★☆☆
I liked the ending, and the theme of stories and what they may or may not mean to us.

Between the Lines by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek Nation) ★★☆☆☆
I had a difficult time keeping track of POV while listening to this on audio, though I appreciated the social anxiety representation.

Circles by Carole Lindstrom (Anishinaabe/Metis, enrolled member of Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) ★★★☆☆
Nice closing poem about connections.

Average rating: 2.85

TW: racism, abuse, bullying, death of a loved one, cancer

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ALC via in exchange for an honest review!

aconant's review

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Overall summary - every elementary library should have this chapter book of short stories.

Each story is like a little jewel. Kids don't often read anthologies and this is such a great representation of the genre. I'm amazed at how the authors all managed to work together to interweave their stories even just a tiny bit so the reader could enjoy stitching together where the stories intersect. A fun little bonus.

This is a fantastic book that offers students a glimpse of Indigenous culture with contemporary characters.

I think most students will really respond and enjoy this book.

Favorite quote "Everybody's different. It's not on you to feel the same. It's on others to accept you because you're not."

runningjenw's review

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Thank you to Net Galley and Heartdrum for the digital ARC of this book.

This middle grade anthology centers around the stories and perspectives of the many different people that attend a powwow. For those of us non-native readers, we are let in to the personal lives of Native people from tribes across North America. The goal of the author/editor, Cynthia Leitich Smith, was to gather stories that bring a powwow to life on the page while also highlighting the individuals behind the dancing and celebration. Through the many stories and poems, she successfully represented the multifaceted people and diverse stories they bring. This is a great introduction to attending a powwow.