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Stand on the Sky

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  74 reviews
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 ri
Hardcover, 330 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  265 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Sara Grochowski
Elementary school me would have been obsessed with this book. Adult me is pretty obsessed with it, too!
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, middle-grade
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.
Daniel Kukwa
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
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 h ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 elde
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to love it more. I liked Aisulu, but the book 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. ...more
Brandy Painter
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 cha ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 w
Amy Smart
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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 r ...more
Melanie Dulaney
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 i ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 aba
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 hunt
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 fe
Kat Drennan-Scace
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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!
Harleigh Hesse
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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!
Ms. Yingling
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 wit
Janet Hutchinson
What a great story. The story about racing eagles, in and of itself, was fascinating, but the addition of changing tradition by having a young girl train and race the eagle was also really well done. I can see my students lapping this up.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ex ...more
Mariana Calderon
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Munro's Kids
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.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Anita McDivitt Barrios
This one we received as an ARC from our local library, so we neither bought it nor checked it out, like we usually do.

But oh, am I glad my daughter got this one! THIS is a fantastic read. We can't gush enough about this one.

The story is simple at its core: a girl does what she must to save her brother's life.

Except in context -- Mongolia in an undetermined year not far from the present -- it's far more difficult than that.

Because when Aisulu rescues the eagle chick she and her brother, Serik, in
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Rachael Bookfairs
OK - I really liked this book. I felt like it will let kids see outside their own worlds ... & I loved the girl hero of the story .... BUT see the kirkus review cribbed below ....

"Readers will root for Aisulu and her community, an ancient culture negotiating the contemporary world. However, Aisulu’s story is insufficiently contextualized. In 2014, Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, competed and won at the festival, depicted in a 2016 documentary, The Eagle Huntress, well-reviewed and nominated for a
May 14, 2020 added it
Shelves: for-the-kiddos
I really enjoyed this middle grade novel about a young Kazakh girl in Mongolia who becomes an eagle hunter. It was fast-paced with lovable and intriguing characters and huuuuuge stakes. I could feel my younger self enjoying it, too--finding out something about another group of people I've really not encountered was always the start of an exploration for me, and novels can help build empathy and shape interests...

...but adult me is uncomfortable that the author doesn't have any apparent ties to t
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
The last 50 pages saved this for me. The relationship between the main character and her eagle made this book everything it was. I wanted to ADORE it, but I just struggled to get through it. Maybe the repeated mention of eagle poop did me in, I'll never know. Whatever it was that made this book a little less impressive to me, I just couldn't get into it until the end. Still, I'm glad this book was written and that the author experienced something of the lifestyle she was writing about (since she ...more
Arwyn King
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for my 10 year old daughter at the recommendation of “A Mighty Girl.” We presented it to her book club and many of the girls, including mine, felt it was too difficult. There were lots of unfamiliar words as they were imported from another language. I wish I knew about the glossary which is hidden at the back. I decided to read the first part to support my daughter but ended up reading for myself! It was a great story and I fell quite in love with the main character. I will de ...more
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