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Stand on the Sky

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A middle grade debut by author, Erin Bow, about a young girl who defies her family’s expectations in order to save her brother and become an eagle hunter.
It goes against all tradition for Aisulu to train an eagle, for among the Kazakh nomads, only men can fly them. But everything changes when Aisulu discovers that her brother, Serik, has been concealing a bad limp that risks not just his future as the family's leader, but his life too.

When her parents leave to seek a cure for Serik in a distant hospital, Aisulu finds herself living with her intimidating uncle and strange auntie -- and secretly caring for an orphaned baby eagle. To save her brother and keep her family from having to leave their nomadic life behind forever, Aisulu must earn her eagle’s trust and fight for her right to soar.  Along the way, she discovers that family are people who choose each other, home is a place you build, and hope is a thing with feathers.

330 pages, Hardcover

First published March 5, 2019

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About the author

Erin Bow

10 books715 followers

1. I'm a physicist turned poet turned YA novelist.
2. I am world-famous in Canada, which is kind of like being world-famous in real life.
3. I write books for young readers and people like me who didn't grow up. All my books will either will make you either cry on the bus or snort milk out your nose. I am dangerous to your dignity and should be stopped.
4. I needed WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS to have a happy ending, so I wrote a middle-grade book called STAND ON THE SKY
5. I needed a book with a Spock-like hero who was also a queer girl, so I wrote THE SCORPION RULES, and its sequel THE SWAN RIDERS.
6. I think cats can actually talk, but don't find us worthy, hence PLAIN KATE.
7. I hate horror, so I wrote a horror: SORROW'S KNOT,
7. I think Hufflepuff is the best house, Xander was the best Scoobie, Five was the best Doctor, and Spock was the best everything.
8. I am married to another novelist, and we can actually pay our bills. Our daughters want to be scientists.
10. My bookshelves will always be full.

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5 stars
223 (52%)
4 stars
136 (32%)
3 stars
53 (12%)
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8 (1%)
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3 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 92 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,352 reviews529 followers
February 19, 2019
This middle grade novel provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about living with a nomad tribe in modern day Mongolia. Aisulu and her brother Serik are searching for a lost horse when a blizzard catches them up on the mountain. When they are able to return to their camp Serik breaks his leg while trying to capture an eagle. This sets off a chain of events which will change the life of their family in unforeseen ways. Ultimately we get to watch Aisulu try to become an eagle hunter -- a role exclusively filled by men in her culture. The reader will struggle and grow along with Aisulu. A beautiful story of perseverance and family ties.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,507 reviews83 followers
November 4, 2018
Stand on the Sky is a book that I can easily picture winning awards like the Newbery. The warm feeling of family, the vivid descriptions of nature & farm life, the empathetic and outspoken Aisulu, the main character of this story... It all ties together so beautifully as Aisulu breaks the gender roles of her community by raising an eagle, becoming a Burkitshi (eagle hunter) and finding herself in her new identity. Soar with her in this marvelous tale you will always remember.
Profile Image for Daniel Kukwa.
4,003 reviews89 followers
March 7, 2019
I'm very much not the target audience for this book, and it's not a storyline I'd usually gravitate towards...but there is no denying I spent most of my free hours yesterday finishing off this book, determined to discover the fate of the characters before I went to bed. It's a lovely straightforward tale that combines coming-of-age with an exotic location (certainly by North American standards)...and I can certainly see the appeal to any number of younger readers who will be swept away by this heady combination. I personally prefer Erin's darker, more terrifying stories (I had rather intense dreams after reading "Sorrow's Knot"), but "Stand on the Sky" is a satisfying & fascinating read. I'm now off to start a Fox Wife fan club; she is, by far, my favourite character in the novel.
Profile Image for Gritnay.
146 reviews38 followers
May 18, 2019
Six stars, no question about it.
Erin Bow has - in every of her books that I’ve read so far - been unfailing in her ability to let her characters grab me and pull me along to live their life with them for the time the story allows. I always end up caring so so deeply.
Enchanting, encouraging and beautiful.
As she says in her acknowledgments ‘It’s all true. And I made it all up.’ The truth and heart behind the fiction is strong with this one.
Love love love it - highly recommended to readers of all ages..

And she sneaks so many gold nuggets into the telling..

‘In a land where girls were supposed to have hearts made of milk, Aisulu had a heart made of sky.’

‘The Fox Wife watched it all, her smile like the lip of a well whose cover had been nudged aside: sliver small, but deep and promising.’

‘He slid down from the horse like a cat round a corner, both sneak and swagger.’

Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
January 10, 2019
I wanted to love it more. I liked Aisulu, but the book felt...off to me somehow. Part of it was that it sometimes felt rather "girl power" and part of it, frankly, is that it was the story of a Kazhak girl being told by a white woman. The story and characters were good, but other things got in the way of my enjoyment.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
April 21, 2019
I wasn't sure what to think about this book when I read the synopsis, but I have really enjoyed a lot of Erin Bow's books so I thought I would give it a try. This ended up being a really really awesome book. I loved the modern day setting in a hunter gatherer tribe in Mongolia, this was really intriguing to read about.

Aisulu is trying to be a proper girl but she loves riding horses across the mountains and plains and sometimes she gets sick of how much attention is paid to her brother...the eldest son of the tribe. When her brother is injured and they find he has a deeper illness, her parents are forced to take him into the city for treatment leaving Aisulu behind with her uncle and strange aunt. Then Aisulu rescues a young baby eagle and ends up raising it; something that is unheard for women to do. However, when her brother’s medical expense look like they are going to force Aisulu and her family out of their nomadic lifestyle it may be Aisulu’s skill with her eagle that can save them.

I enjoyed all the characters and watching as Aisulu learns how to train eagles. It was amazing to see how the community came together to support her and how brave she was and how hard she worked. I also really loved the modern nomadic setting in Mongolia. I learned a ton about this lifestyle through this book and it was a lot I didn’t know and really enjoyed learning about.

This ends up being a very emotional read about Aisulu’s ties to her family, tribe, and eagle. It was incredibly engaging and hard to put down (I read it one sitting). I loved Bow’s afterword as well where she talks about the research she did for this book; a lot of care, hard work, and thought went into writing this story.

Overall this was an amazing read that I would recommend to everyone. Especially to those who enjoy books about strong female characters fighting against the odds, animals, or are curious about nomadic lifestyles.
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,606 reviews228 followers
April 22, 2019
The writing here is excellent because it's Erin Bow, and she is an excellent writer. I came away with the impression that it was also well researched and as factually accurate as Bow could make it writing from the perspective of an outsider of the culture. (I know she spent some time in Mongolia prior to writing this.) I fell just short of being able to love it, which is mostly because I am not the right reader for this book. I don't like nature. I hate birds. I also had some questions about character motivation and general characterization of the adults. I do fully intend to add it to all my MG lists and book talk it to the 5th-7th graders. The ones who love realistic fiction and nature will eat this book up.
Profile Image for Dakota Smith.
402 reviews12 followers
May 9, 2023
Really enjoyed the story. It was not like anything I have read before, eye opening, about a nomadic family in Mongolia 🇲🇳 and a young girl’s journey with a very special eagle 🦅 and her special relationship with her brother…
(Mongolia 🇲🇳 )
Profile Image for Laura.
2,701 reviews81 followers
April 2, 2019
This is an amazing book with a strong will protagonist, who doens’t so much defy traditions, but traditions defy her. She is not supposed to be an eagle trainer. That is a job for boys. But fate and her eagle think otherwise, and so with great pleasure, she peruses this task.

The research in this book is amazing. You feel as though you are in this land.

And the eagles, the wild golden eagles are just as real.

The hardest part of reading a really good book, such as this one, is that eventually it will end, and you will have to find another book to read.

And it won’t be the other books fault that it is not as good as this one.

Bow takes your heart, and rips it to shreads, but a good shreads. Great ending. Highly recommend it to all of you out there, even if you don’t read middle-grade books.
Profile Image for Amy Smart.
Author 1 book6 followers
March 30, 2019
I realize I’m not the target audience for this book, but as an adult I enjoyed it and I think Middle-Grade Me would have enjoyed it even more. I love learning about cultures and languages different from my own, so the synopsis (and the beautiful cover!) got my attention right from the start. Also: baby eagle! While the characters in the story are fictional, they and the things that happened to them are based on things the author actually experienced while living with a family in Mongolia to do research for this book, which I think is incredible! I liked the themes of strength, resilience, and family being the people that choose to love you just the way you are. A great read for Middle Grade students for sure, especially for young girls!
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,376 reviews66 followers
June 9, 2019
Mongolian Aisulu is searching for her place in both her family and her nomadic Kazakh community. Always feeling like second best after her brother and near worthless as a girl, her quest seems destined to end with embroidery and milking, but nearly dying in an unexpected blizzard, the death of a mother eagle and a developing warmth with her aunt, things begin to go very differently. Aish may find her heart and her place with eagles. Author Erin Bow brings readers into a culture seldom explored in middle grade literature. Homes called gers, villages called auls, and a passion for training and hunting with eagles are vividly portrayed, and the Kakakhan vocabulary weaves seamlessly in and out of Aisulu’s journey to not only find herself, but save her brother as well. Themes of perseverance,
self-discovery and the concepts of family and belonging are readily apparent, but all that 4th through 6th graders will really care about are things like who will win the eagle hunting contest, where will Aisulu make her home, and will her brother be ok! Librarians and caregivers of the target age group will appreciate the descriptive writing, the exposure to a lesser known people-group, and the absence of any potentially objectionable content. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 4 books47 followers
January 9, 2022
My daughter read this book two years ago and after re-reading it recently, was raving about how terrific it was. I always trust her recommendations, and finally got a chance to pick it up. IT IS AMAZING! The quality of the writing is phenomenal-lyrical sparkling with deeply insightful descriptions and turns of phrase. The story is beyond satisfying and the ending is just what you hope it will be and more. Hooray for Aisulu, the eagle hunter!
Profile Image for Jenn.
864 reviews30 followers
July 20, 2018
Par for the course, I've cried multiple times, and especially at the end.
Beautiful and poetic and just wonderful - I can't wait for everyone to read this one.
Profile Image for Angie.
3,624 reviews44 followers
August 9, 2019
Aisulu lives in with her family in a ger in the Kazakh mountains. They are nomadic people who move with the seasons as their herds need. Aisulu dreams of being more than a dutiful daughter. Her brother Serik is the prince of the family, destined to oversee the family one day as their uncle has no children. Tragedy strikes one spring day when Aisulu and Serik are caught in the mountains during a summer blizzard. Aisulu finds out that Serik has a lame leg and he believes it will cause him to lose his place in the family. Then they see an eagle and Serik sees a way to redeem himself. Unfortunately, things do not go well for either Serik or the eagle. His leg breaks and he is taken hundreds of miles away to the nearest hospital.

It turns out he has cancer and loses his leg. Aisulu is left without her immediate family and taken in by her uncle Dulat and aunt the Fox Wife (so named because she comes from a different people). Aisulu knows the eagle they hunted had a chick and that the chick will die without its mother. So she climbs the cliffs to rescue the chick and bring it home. The Fox Wife helps her learn to feed and care for the baby eagle Toktar even though girls can't have eagles.

Eagle Hunters are prized among their people. They are called Burkitshi and highly regarded. It takes great skill and courage to capture an eagle, bond with it, and then have it hunt for you. Only men become Burkitshi. Dulat was an eagle hunter in his youth and tries to claim Toktar from Aisulu, but he is too late. They have already bonded; the eagle is Aisulu's.

Then her father returns with news of Serik. He needs a prosthetic leg and rehab if he is going to walk again. That costs money and must be done far away. The family must either sell their portion of the herd and ger or Aisulu can win the Eagle Competition. No girl has ever won, but Aisulu is determined and Dulat is willing to teach her.

I adored this book more than I can even express. I loved Aisulu's spirit and determination and willingness to buck tradition. I loved that her family supported her and that they did not try to push her into the "women's" roles once she had her eagle. I adored the Matchmaker who forced her horrid son to help outfit Aisulu for the competition. I loved the old Burkitshi who sponsored Aisulu. And I loved the bond between Aisulu and Toktar. The only thing that would have made this book even better is if it had been written by someone from that culture. But Erin Bow did such a fantastic job with her research that I believed she knew what life in a ger was like; what life on the plains of Kazakhstan was like. I am going to recommend this book to anyone and everyone; it is one of my favorites of the year.
Profile Image for Ms. Yingling.
1,411 reviews491 followers
November 28, 2022
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Aisulu and her brother Serik are out looking for his horse when a summer snowstorm hits the mountain where their Kazakh nomadic family lives. They manage to make it home, but see an injured eagle on their way. Their uncle, who has raised eagles and used them for hunting, can't save the mother, but Aisulu hunts for the nest and manages to save the eaglet. In her culture, it is the men and boys who raise eagles, but Aisulu is bound and determined to enter a competition with Toktar, especially after Serik does not return from the hospital after their snow storm ordeal. Serik's leg had been bothering him, and he begged Aisulu not to tell, but when he has his injury treated, they find out he has an osteosarcoma, and his leg must be amputated. Entering the competition could mean money to help her brother, so Aisulu raises and trains the eagle, finding unlikely allies her uncle Dulat, his wife, and a retired eagle trainer. She is afraid that even if she wins, she will lose Toktar when her family is forced to live in the city, but things have a way of working out, and Aisulu is able to remain true to her hopes and dreams.
Strengths: The details of what it is like to live in a ger are very complete. Food, clothing, shelter, daily life, work, school-- these things are all very different from life in the US, and there's just the right amount of detail. There is also a lot of girl power, with Aisulu wanting to buck tradition and getting support from most of those around her. My favorite was the grandmother of one young man who gave Aisulu a hard time because she was a girl-- the grandmother makes the young man give Aisulu a pair of boots he has outgrown! The aunt, who is from another tribe, has a different outlook on life, and teachers Aisulu some valuable skills. Their relation ship is my favorite.
Weaknesses: This is not an #ownvoices book, but the research is very thorough, so until a woman raised in a nomadic Kazakh family writes a middle grade book about her experiences and it's available in English, I am VERY happy to have this book!
What I really think: There are so many good things about this book, and since I've been able to get students interested in Butterworth's Running on the Roof of the World, I have high hopes for this one!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
966 reviews71 followers
November 29, 2019
I'm a huge Erin Bow fan. I've loved her writing since Plain Kate and that book just gutted me.

Stand on the Sky is her latest book. It's about a girl who has a brother she loves very much. She finds out that something is wrong with his leg, and in a culture based on labor that privileges able bodies, that's unthinkable. The whole family rallies around him and brings him to the city so he can be cured. They completely forget and leave behind Aisulu, who feels the uncertainty, the fear and the abandonment acutely and painfully. Just as she loses her brother, she finds an eagle chick. She names and cares for the chick and she ends up being the first female eagle hunter. She performs and wins at the eagle hunters' contest and wins enough money to get her brother a prosthetic leg.

The bulk of the book, and the most rewarding part, focuses on Aisulu's growing bond with her eagle, who symbolically seems to stand in for the brother she misses and worries desperately about. It's heartwarming to read about Aisulu slowly healing and thawing as she loves and is loved by her eagle, and the found family she finds herself surrounded with, which is a stark contrast to her birth family, who treats her a little like an afterthought. I don't have the words to convey how much emotion, loneliness, grief, pain, heartbreak but also beauty Erin Bow packs into her writing. She uses the most poetic language to convey Aisulu's feelings and it really hits like a punch.

Since Plain Kate, I've noticed that the books are always dedicated to Erin Bow's sister who has passed away, and the huge and destabilising sense of loss she struggles with. It really comes through in the books. The main characters are empathetic, brave and passionate, struggling with loss and going through a slow journey towards healing. I have so much love for them.

So happy to have read this book and I hope Erin Bow comes out with another one soon!! I can't get enough of her books.
Profile Image for Kurisu.
46 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2019
I have been a fan of Erin Bow for several years. We read Sorrow’s Knot with my teen book club and immediately ordered Scorpion Rules they loved that as well. So I went in knowing to expect an excellent read. I also found out it won the GG award just before reading it.

What was surprising is that I learned a lot about a lot of different things reading this book. For example I didn’t know that people milked horses or that there’s a nomadic Kazakh minority in Mongolia. I didn’t know about eagle hunting or the maturation of an eaglet. News flash they eat small animals and have bad table manners. Although there was so much new vocabulary and new information the pace of the story was great and it never felt like it would bog the reader down.

Although I love a well written book that teaches me something, it was the characters that won me over. Aisulu and Curious Yak being my two favourites. This book is highly recommended to anyone 11+.
Profile Image for Chinook.
2,258 reviews19 followers
November 17, 2019
This book certainly deserves the award it won that lead me to read it. It’s wonderful.

It’s a book about finding your place in the world, about finding your family, about finding your strength. The ending made me tear up. At its core, it’s an amazing story of training an eagle to win a competition - and as foreign as riding a horse through the mountains of Mongolia with an eagle on a glove is to me, the writing was so good I could feel the joy and exhilaration that must be. The self doubt and fear also kept off the page as Aish struggled to make peace with her place in her family and her place as a girl breaking the mood.
Profile Image for Chapitre1.
56 reviews
June 27, 2022
Do you know how rare it is to find a story set in Mongolia?
Yet, it is fascinating to read about the traditional way of life of people living in remote areas, in a hostile environment, even.
Aisulu's story was very moving, and I was glad of all the love and encouragement that came her way throughout her difficult summer of being apart from her parents, afraid for her brother's health, and learning to train an eagle!
Thank you Erin Bow. That research trip to Mongolia must have been quite special. Bring me in your suitcase, next time!
Profile Image for Kat Drennan-Scace.
756 reviews27 followers
July 11, 2019
This was an excellent and really different read. It focuses on Mongolian culture, which I didn’t know much about. I really liked the community of women and supportive male allies that were depicted and the complexities of taking on a traditionally male role in this society. I learned a lot and also just really felt for the protagonist on her great journey. Definitely an empowering read and one that was well researched as well!
Profile Image for Harleigh Hesse.
1 review3 followers
March 25, 2019
This is a beautiful story about a girl who rescues a baby eagle, raises him and competes in a Eagle Hunter competition in order to raise money to help her brother. Insightful and enjoyable, Erin did great work researching how the Kazakh people live and how they fly their eagles. Her details about birds of prey and horses was spot on. I feel like I truly understood their way of life. Highly recommend this book for ANY animal lover!
May 6, 2023
Stand on the Sky is absolutely the kind of book that I would have loved to read when I was younger. It’s not just for middle schoolers, despite being a “middle-grade” novel. I loved this book just as much as an adult as I think I would have when I was younger. This is the kind of book I wish my junior high school library had carried, when all I could find to read were below-level books on topics I was not at all interested in or classics I was not yet prepared to read.

Aisulu is an incredible protagonist. She is strong, but she also acknowledges insecurity and potential weaknesses. She is logical most of the time but immature in the ways that nearly every twelve-year-old is. She is intensely connected to her immediate family and tries to do what is best for them, but she doesn’t hide what she wants and she keeps things going when her parents and sick brother abruptly and indefinitely leave for a hospital far away. In sum, she is the kind of character that I want my own children to read about: a wonderful blend of realistic and extraordinary.

The setting, too, is impressive. I have never read a book set in Kazakhstan, and know next to nothing about the geography or people who live there. The beautiful writing in Stand on the Sky is a moving and heartfelt introduction. As a preteen, Aisulu is still figuring out herself and how life works, and she is also learning about her culture and family. The reader learns as she learns. Knowledge is presented organically, not abruptly and not presented as a lecture. I greatly enjoyed learning about Aisulu’s family in this way.

I honestly have nothing bad to say about this book. At a stretch, I could mention that some of the humor is not actually funny, but I think for the most part it probably would be to a twelve year old. Stand on the Sky tells a story that is at the same time incredibly unique (at least in my Western context) and the same as every other story – aren’t we all always still finding ourselves, and learning where we fit in our world? We may not all train eagles, milk yaks, or live in a nomadic family, but as humans we face many of the same struggles in different ways.

This review was originally posted at Reviews From the Stacks.
Profile Image for TinySalutations.
338 reviews4 followers
May 15, 2022
I loved the story, but I am very uncomfortable about the appropriation. It is very dishonest to try to pass this off as the author’s work of fiction. This is very obviously the story of Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the first female to complete (let alone win) in the Olgii Eagle Festival. The story is nearly identical with only tiny details changed here and there, down to even the names of characters. I mean it is staggering how similar they are, and yet she claims even in the author’s note “The book you have in your hands is a work of fiction, which is to say, I made up the people in it, and the things that happen to them.”

I am just really disappointed, because I want to love this story. It is a good story. But I can’t in good conscience suggest it. It feels very wrong. I am going to read Aisholpan Nurgaiv’s memoir “The Eagle Huntress”, which was a follow up to the documentary of the same name (made in 2016, 3 years before ‘Stand on the Sky’ was published). I suggest that anyone who is interested in this book or this subject reads her book instead. It is probably not perfect either as it is written in conjunction with another author who is an English language ghost writer. But it at least attempts to give her voice to her own story.

I don’t know where the author got the audacity to write a book about the life of a real person from another country and pretend it all came from her own genius. If she would’ve given credit where it was due, explaining that this was in fact narrative nonfiction maybe or based on a true story, I might give it 5*, but as it stands I can’t.

Profile Image for Mariana Calderon.
151 reviews7 followers
December 28, 2018
An beautifully written book about breaking free of gender roles, making your own family, and navigating between traditional ways of life and the contemporary world.
This is a sweet read, full of lovely moments between humans and nature in the vein of Pax and The Wild Robot. Ainsulu's voice is strong and empathetic, and the descriptions of her Kazakh family's nomadic way of life are vivid and well-researched.
Profile Image for Munro's Kids.
557 reviews17 followers
October 15, 2018
Lovely and joyful. Bow has historically been a master of the bittersweet, but in this one she instead invokes sheer, unharnessed joy to pull off a similar emotional punch. The book also has a caring narrative full of careful detail and a tiny touch of that bittersweetness. It's calming but not muted, and fascinating without being detached - an oasis read if you're feeling stressed.
Profile Image for Mary.
724 reviews12 followers
April 28, 2019
Um--I've been thinking hard about this review, and about this book. Full disclosure:

1. Erin Bow writes beautifully.
2. I didn't like Plain Kate, probably her most famous book, at all. I admired it, but didn't like it.
3. This book is much more likable, in part because the young protagonist is very relatable and well-realized. The culture is also fascinating. I think I would have adored this book as a little girl of ten or so, and it has something of the feel of a classic. That said--

To me, it was just shy of being a classic. There are two reasons for this, and I'm going to try to be as fair as possible in laying them out. Mind, this really is a good book. Spoilers for both book and the movie "The Eagle Huntress" follow, so please stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled!

The first thing that threw me a little was what I can only call a certain trendiness. Why does the little girl, Aisulu, insist an obviously female eaglet is male? To me, this didn't quite ring true. Yes, it's a girl power book, and it's powerful that Aisulu wants her mother to accept her as she is, AS a girl, but not a traditional one. Many young girls will surely relate to this. But these conflicts don't exist in the same way in all cultures. More on this below.

Another somewhat trendy thing is the Fox Wife, Aisulu's aunt, who is a foreign, pagan shaman. The Kazakh people to which Aisulu belongs are Muslim. But it isn't her own faith which sustains the child; the best spiritual guidance she receives comes from her pagan aunt. Not impossible, of course, and there is certainly wisdom in all faiths. But it struck me as a bit trendy.

Now to the second thing that threw me. "Stand on the Sky" is about a young Kazakh girl in Mongolia who wants to become an eagle hunter. "The Eagle Huntress" is a 2016 documentary about a young Kazakh girl in Mongolia who wants to become an eagle hunter. Why is absolutely no mention made of the film anywhere in the book? I was glad to see that Erin Bow raved about the film in an interview in Kirkus. I also understand that both book and film were inspired by a series of photos, not by each other. But wouldn't young readers--both boys and girls--be fascinated to find this book was inspired by a true story? Wouldn't they want to know more? I certainly would have!

And--my mother, who taught history, was always at pains to make clear to her students what was fact and what was fiction. "Stand on the Sky" is a novel, and a good one. To acknowledge the film, and the facts the book and film both drew from, would be good pedagogy and good art, IMHO. A couple of examples:

In the book, the master Eagle Hunter, Nursultan, explains, "Just last year I wen to the mountains to let my last eagle go. I brought her a lamb as a last offering and I slaughtered it there on the mountaintop." (ARC of "Stand on the Sky", page 220)

The movie begins with a scene of a hunter sacrificing a lamb for his eagle as he lets her go.

In the competition that is the climax of the book, it's noted that five seconds is the record for an eagle to fly to her partner, the eagle hunter. In the movie, we see this record being made.

These are just two of the strong similarities between the book and the movie. It would have been nice, as I said, to explain what parts of the story were based on fact and to acknowledge, in the text itself, that the movie existed. Perhaps that's been done in the published book.

One more thing I'd like to mention, and this is an essential difference between the book and the movie. The film, more than anything, is about the love between a father and his daughter. The young girl Aisholpan's family is intact and very supportive. The book, however, focuses on a family suddenly stressed by a child's illness. Aisulu's bond with her brother and how the family copes with his cancer are wonderfully portrayed. These things, to me, were the strongest part of the book.

I could say more, but this review is already more than long enough! I do recommend this book, but, to me, it is just shy of being the classic it might have been.
Profile Image for Peyton.
1,280 reviews1 follower
July 30, 2019
I loved that “Stand on the Sky” was set in a Kazakhs community in Mongolia. This setting is awesome! First, it is not a common setting for books and brings in a whole new world for readers to explore. Aisulu is the protagonist and spends the book battling gender norms of Kazakhs culture and learning to fly an eagle, Toktar. The characters are wonderful, the descriptions are gorgeous, and the plot is well done. Bow went to Mongolia to learn about Kazakhs culture, so the details of this story are well-sourced. It is a great story with a wonderful setting.

“Stand on the Sky” is Erin Bow’s middle grade debut. I think that the novel does an excellent job of appealing to the target age group. The protagonist, Aisulu, is a preteen and has an older brother. Aisulu is at the age where she is finding herself and her place in her world. The people around her are all family and each play a role in Aisulu’s life. That role depends on the person and how they view her decision to go against the norm.

I am not sure how I feel about the plot. I was talking to someone about the book and they said it sounds a lot like the 2016 documentary “The Eagle Huntress”. I do not know if Bow had any inspiration from that documentary. Bow writes that she has been working on this book for ten years, so I have a hunch that her story came first. Nowhere in the book does she mention the documentary.

Overall, it is a good book. It is a beautiful story told in a wonderful setting. I did struggle getting through the books at points where I lost interest. If it would have been able to keep my interest the whole time, it would have gotten five stars. To be fair, the lack of interest is probably more due to personal stuff happening at the time than the book.
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43 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2020
I read Plain Kate years ago and was not a fan; therefore, I am so glad that I gave reading Erin Bow a second chance. Prior to reading this book, I had heard people question whether it was her story to tell (being a white North American woman) and I understand this concern but, after reading Stand on the Sky, it is impossible not to love it. This book is beautiful in every sense, the characters, the setting, the plot, and the feeling that it left inside me that dreams can come true.

I was hooked from the very beginning; the writing is so powerful that it was as if I was with Aisulu and Serik when the blizzard hit on the mountain top (and I am neither familiar with mountain tops nor summer blizzards!). I fell in love with Aisulu, both her determination and her doubts, and felt overjoyed at each of her triumphs. I loved the theme that family is made up of those who support you and I was touched by the relationships between Aisulu and her extended family as well as members of the community who rallied behind her. This book has everything, exciting action scenes, beautifully developed characters, and a strong message about hard work and being true to yourself. This story will stay with me for a long time.
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