STARRED REVIEW
February 08, 2021

Ancestor Approved

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Ancestor Approved is a lively anthology of interlinked short stories and poems from a wide range of Native American writers. It’s also the first anthology published by Heartdrum, a new imprint within HarperCollins Children’s Publishing dedicated to Native American stories and creators.

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Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids is a lively anthology of interlinked short stories and poems from a wide range of Native American writers, including Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Traci Sorell and Joseph Bruchac, as well as editor and Heartdrum co-founder Cynthia Leitich Smith. It’s also the first anthology published by Heartdrum, a new imprint within HarperCollins Children’s Publishing dedicated to Native American stories and creators.

In a web of stories as intricate as the dancers’ beaded outfits, through voices as varied as the tribes represented at the powwow, the authors create a memorable group of characters who interact and overlap at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the biggest powwows in the United States. Some characters are already acquainted, while others are meeting for the first time. Some dance on the stage, while others are content to watch, and some are deeply in touch with their heritage and tribal traditions, while others are discovering them for the first time. Their experiences and backgrounds reflect the rich and varied vibrancy of Native communities. Readers will feel invited to celebrate these experiences as they read about the food, art and performances of the powwow.

Much of American children’s literature has for too long relegated Indigenous people and their stories to the category of historical fiction. Ancestor Approved shines a long overdue spotlight on a joyful aspect of Native life in America today.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Cynthia Leitich Smith and editor Rosemary Brosnan share the origin story of Heartdrum and explain why its existence is breaking important new ground.

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