November 26th is Native American Heritage Day, and definitely a day to feature more reads for you today. Today’s books are all anthologies, but even within this set of 3 books, there is so much to offer for readers across age groups. Each one of these Native American anthologies, whether fiction or non-fiction is sure to inform and keep you reading; and leave you wanting to read more.
What I love about anthologies in general is that they offer a variety of voices lending perspective to something central (most often as is the case with anthologies), and leaves readers richer for the reading! Each anthology in today’s post is excellent – both in this varied perspective I mention as well as the fact that the overall collection is simply awe-worthy. Like with every anthology, some pieces do appeal more than others but I have not singled out specific stories or picks from today’s featured anthologies as favorites below as I found it hard to do so. I will leave it to you, as readers, to pick your own favorites. Any mention of specific pieces is to simply point out something about the collection 🙂
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3 Amazing Native American Anthologies
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Title: #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Editors: Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Length: 116 pages
Genre: Teen and YA Nonfiction/Social Issues, Native American Books, Diverse Reads(12 years and up)
Publisher: Annick Press (Sept 12, 2017)
Description: Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
Powerful!! If I had to sum up this book in one word, that would be it. And I can simply end my review just like that – powerful!!
An astoundingly dynamic and vibrant tapestry of words and artwork, #NotYourPrincess has so much to offer within its pages. It is an exploration of all the issues that the Native American woman faces as well a celebration of her. #NotYourPrincess shows readers all the sides of life for women; the good and the bad, the totally joyous and the heartbreaking; it is a way of reclaiming their worth, of raising their voices, and of being themselves proudly and freely.
Every poem, essay, interview, and quote; and every collage, painting, photograph, and artwork; each and every page tells a story that needs to be read and heard and shared. So do yourself a favor and go read this book today.
I have said it all already, so just.. powerful..
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Title: Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection
Author/Editor: Matt Dembicki
Length: 232 pages
Genre: Teen and YA fiction/Native American Books, Diverse Reads(12 years and up)
Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing (July 10, 2014)
Description: In Trickster more than twenty Native American tales are cleverly adapted into comic form. Each story is written by a different Native American storyteller who worked closely with a selected illustrator, a combination that gives each tale a unique and powerful voice and look. Ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish, these tales bring tricksters back into popular culture in a very vivid form
Many of you know I love fairy tales, folk tales, and all the etcs that come with it. I grew up reading comic books and recently (re)discovered my love for the graphic novel. This book helps me check all those boxes easily, and lets me learn so much as well, about the culture and about the common threads that bind different cultures through stories.
This collection reminds me of the Jataka Tales and the Panchatantra from India; it also is reminiscent of Kipling’s Just So stories. Each tale shows readers how the featured trickster, well, tricks others. Some tricksters are wicked and evil while others are plain mischief makers.
The different native storytellers narrating these age-old tales and as many various illustrators lending their creativity to the accompanying artwork results in a unique collection; a joining together of traditional and modern, of pop-art and folk art, and of so many diverse things that shouldn’t work together, but somehow do, and do so wonderfully, in this book.
It would have been wonderful to have both the creators’ thoughts on the story as well as more on the story’s story (which Native American Nation/other info) included with each story itself to make it a more comprehensive and enriching experience.
However, I did enjoy Matt Dembicki’s editor’s note at the end which explains how this book came about – do not miss reading this. In addition, end notes include storyteller and illustrator biographies for all the contributors.
This book works in so many ways as an excellent vehicle for so many different things that I simply have to say – get it for yourself (or loved ones, and yourself!!)
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Title: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Editor: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Children’s fiction/Native American Books, Diverse Reads(9 – 12 years, and up)
Publisher: Heartdrum (February 9, 2021)
Description: Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog).
Another collection of stories put together for readers to enjoy. Each story in this is separate yet they are all connected – by virtue of location, of a powwow, and of themes. The way all the authors worked together to ensure interconnectedness while also enabling each story to be read independently of the other wowed me. This concept of each story being brilliant but the sum total being even more so simply seems to be a mirror to the diverse yet connected Native American communities across North America.
I love how each author provides their own perspective and voice to the stories, yet these separate and diverse stories do not seem disjointed as we read them. I appreciated that the stories address various topics, ranging from the light, joyous, and heartfelt to tougher issues. story lends itself to many discussions, and the connections between the stories can add to more thought provoking conversations. In addition, looking for things that connect one story to any or more of the others is sure to be fun as well. I also appreciated how the collection begins and ends with a poem; the first one talking about what a powwow is, while the last one completes the “circle,” so to speak!
As I reached the very end of the book, I found myself enriched and informed. I felt like I had been to the powwow myself; welcomed and immersed in the richness of the culture through descriptions of regalia, myths and legends, dance and music, dialects and languages, and of course, food and drink!
Back matter includes Notes and Acknowledgements for the included stories and poems. There is also a glossary of the Native words used in the book. It is followed by short biographies of the various writers, and an editor’s note as well.
Well, what more can I say, except, this is a must-read for all ages.
Get it Here
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And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of the featured books? If yes, I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Do you have any recommendations for anthologies, whether related to Native American reads or others? I would love to hear about those, and maybe add them to my TBR.