The Eagle Huntress: The True Story of the Girl Who Soared Beyond Expectations

Little, Brown. May 2020. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316522618.
Gr 5-8–Sixteen-year-old Nurgaiv came from a Kazakh/Mongolian family with a tradition of hunting with eagles, a custom handed from father to son for generations. But cultural expectations demanded that girls stay at home. Nurgaiv, who had an affinity for eagles, was not content with that role. She convinced her father, mother, and grandfather to let her try to become an eagle huntress. First, she was required to capture her own eaglet, and then raise and train it carefully. It was an arduous task, but Nurgaiv loved it, and loved her eaglet, White Feathers. Within a remarkably short period of time, she not only entered the 2014 Golden Eagle Festival competition, but actually won it. Told in her own words, Nurgaiv’s love for her family, her culture, and her eagle is expressed clearly. Her nomad life, its primary mode of transportation by horse or camel, is described affectionately in detail. Readers may be surprised that in the 21st century, Nurgaiv has never heard of pizza or toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as other things considered common to young readers. This glimpse into another culture would do well paired with the documentary to spark discussion on multiple levels.
VERDICT Recommended for middle grade collections, especially for biography sections focusing on female empowerment.

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