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We know fiction can take us to wonderful places, teach us about different people and different lives. Well, Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow does that amazingly well with this book set in Mongolia near the border with Kazakhstan. Erin started life as a physicist, and maybe that science background led her to be an exceptional researcher and observer of detail. This book had an unusual research effort – just a few years ago, Erin Bow travelled from her home in Ontario Canada to live in Mongolia with a nomadic Kazak family for a summer to immerse herself in the location. She wanted this book to be about family, about change as a girl grows up and finds herself and how doing that reflects difficult change in this very traditional culture.


And our main character, 12 yr old Aisulu achieves that change by rescuing an orphaned baby golden eaglet, ensuring its survival and training it, and herself, to be an eagle hunter.


This is such an engaging story, with descriptions that should be slowly savored and yet with excitement that makes you hold your breath. Erin’s descriptions of the Mongolian mountain plateau location, individual homes and the extended family compound and the daily lives of herding nomads is detailed, loving, and extensive. Erin Bow’s word use reflects her focus after she left the world of physics. She became a poet, has written and is writing books of poetry. So this book is beautifully written, and as wise as the successful mother of two teen girls can be.


Erin’s other books, all award winners, are middle grade and young adult fantasy, but this book, while fiction, is firmly rooted in the real. It is an astoundingly good book. It won the Canadian Governor Generals Award for Children’s Literature.


Stand on the Sky was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available from them, from many bookstores and from Amazon. If you are just hearing about this book from me, you really should subscribe to Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte and hit the notification bell to hear about my other book reviews too!