Interwoven Stories: The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book and Ancestor Approved

Here are two books, both filled with interwoven stories, and both of which made me sigh with pleasure and the just-rightness of the perfect book for that moment

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book
by Kate Milford.

Clarion, 2021.

ISBN 978-1328466907.

Read from library copy. 

The waters are rising outside the inn (a different inn, not Greenglass House) in 1930s Nagspeake.  (The time is only mentioned in the afterward.)  As is traditional, the diverse group of people there decide to tell stories to pass the time.  Most of the characters are adults, some familiar from other Milford books, though many of them are especially protective of the one child there, Maisie, who is being cared for by the innkeepers while waiting for her aunt.  The tales range from funny to scary to romantic, all with beautiful illustrations, and it’s not until the end that it’s clear how tightly they are all linked.  There were so many characters that I got to know them only gradually, through their stories, but I didn’t mind.  This return to beloved characters and place was such a balm.  I found myself wanting to reread many of the older books just to better be able to recognize returning the characters.  

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book: 

“If you succeed…you will discover something about yourself that you will be glad to know. You will find that you are brave.  And not because you had to become brave, but because you were brave all along.”

p 93

“Love can hurt. Love can be one-sided. And sometimes love requires sacrifices, too. But love is not predatory.  Wherever you go from here, please be wary of anyone who demands to be given your heart rather than asking to be invited into it.”

p 171

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Heartdrum, 2021.

ISBN 978-0062869944.

Read from library copy.

17 authors, including familiar to me names Tim Tingle, Rebecca Roanhorse, Traci Sorrel, Dawn Quigley, Joseph Bruchac, and Carole Lindstrom, join to tell this story of people from many Native Nations traveling and meeting at the (real) Dance for Mother Earth Powwow at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Although the stories are written individually, major characters from one story often appear as side characters in another, and the star of one of my favorite stories, Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Rez Dog Rules”, a free-spirited, owned by no-one dog who decides to help sell t-shirts, appears in all of them.  Other highlights include the very funny story of a kid named Luksi escorting a bus full of outspoken seniors from Oklahoma in “Warriors of Forgiveness” by Tim Tingle.  “Little Fox and the Case of the Missing Regalia” by Erika T. Wurth is light, but hints at more serious problems.  I also really enjoyed “Joey Reads the Sky” by Dawn Quigley, in which a boy who has difficulty reading English has no trouble reading the patterns in the sky, which speaks to him in Ojibwe.  Though no one’s lives are too happy to be believable, the overall feeling is warm and happy, filled with the warmth of family, heritage, discovered connections, and fresh fry bread. 

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Books, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Print, Realistic and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Interwoven Stories: The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book and Ancestor Approved

  1. Just finished this last night – that last sentence is a great way to describe the book. I found the individual stories a mixed bag but I appreciate the diversity of the kids’ backgrounds and experiences.

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