We Recommend: Initiation Ceremony Edition—Help!

And it's back to We Recommend, where my girls and I use our superpowers
to figure out the exact right book recommendation for whomever writes
in to ask. Just send us a description of the kid  you're talking about,
what he or she likes and does like, any other relevant (or irrelevant,
why not?) information, and we'll dip into our collective
unconsciousness and come up with the perfect book, which will
inevitably be overshadowed by the amazing and insightful
recommendations from the commenters. So go ahead, test us!

Normally with this feature I go in a little bit cocky. "Hey, look at
me, no challenge is too big for me, I've got a great idea, blah blah blah." But today's is different.
Here's what I mean:

We will have a naming day party for my daughter in a month’s time
(instead of a baptism). We did the same for her older brother when he was born.
Instead of making a speech, I (rather cleverly, I must admit I thought) read
from Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, the part where Mowgli is
accepted into the Seeonee pack of wolves. I thought it was a good parallel to
the initiation when a child is given a name, and accepted as part of a

But when it comes to my daughters naming day party
and a speech for her in the same vein, I can’t really think of any other
books that have a similar tale of someone accepted into a society like in “The
Jungle Book”. In my mind, I have some vague reminiscence of a book for
adolescents about a white girl being adopted into an Indian tribe, and that’s
about it. Can you or your readers think of any books that have some good
descriptions of initiation ceremonies or of someone being accepted into a

To which I respond: wow. Wow that you've created this excellent way to
bring family together, wow that you thought of such a cool passage, wow
wow wow.

And then of course, I attempt to think of initiation ceremonies. And
mostly fail. I think of the scene in Are You There God, It's Me,
when they form the preteen cuties, and that seems just wrong.
I think of the first night at camp Kookooskoos in The Trumpet of the
but that's more of a welcoming to a specific place than a welcoming in of new members, really. I think of Victoria*, a harrowing shadowy specter from my youth
when they did some sort of black magic ceremony that scared the bejeezus
out of me. Then there's Oliver Twist, when he joins the band of
thieves, though that's sort of the opposite of what you want. Moving
forward in time, maybe something from the sorting hat in Harry Potter?
Maybe that scene from The Three Musketeers when they say "All for one
and one for all?" And, maybe I'm dim, but why not go with the Jungle
a second time? Same family, after all. Can't we just change it to
a she-cub? The baby won't mind.

Which all comes down to: I DON'T KNOW. There, I said it. I don't know the right book to recommend here, I can't think of anything that seems just right. My superpower has been found wanting.

Which is to say: I am relying on you, faithful readers. Any ideas?

* On a separate note, does anyone remember this book? It might have been
called V is for Victoria? About a girl who thought she was a witch?

6 thoughts on “We Recommend: Initiation Ceremony Edition—Help!

  1. Hmmmm….I can’t say anything is springing to mind but I wonder if there might be something suitable in a Tiffany Aching book (the Terry Pratchett YA series about a young witch). Perhaps the first one? I should re-read them and get back to you but perhaps the woman asking would have fun reading them…


  2. Hmm I will think more on this- can’t really come up with a selection about being welcomed into a society. However, the connection of naming, and knowing and love is in Madeline L’Engle’s The Wind in the Door. Abiding theme in her work is that naming is important and necessary- kind of a holy thing to do.


  3. How about the part with the birth of the fairies in Peter Pan. I used part of that for Brynna’s birth announcements. It’s not necessarily about naming, but it is about coming into being and joining a society. If not, in the first Disney Fairies book, “Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg” (Okay, they are not the best books ever, but this one is by Gail Carson Levine and it’s actually quite good) Prilla comes for the first time to Pixie Hollow and there is a ceremony and a lot about trying to find her “talent” or her place in fairy society. It’s quite nice.


  4. Is there anything in The Neverending Story and the naming of Moonchild that might work? I can’t remember it that well but I know that Bastian’s power to name her is important to the story. What about Clan of the Cave Bear when they give Ayla her cave bear totem?


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