Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup

Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup
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Age Range
Release Date
August 01, 2023
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Batu is just an ordinary kid in present-day Almaty, worried about bullies, school, and his mom’s new baby…until the day he meets Aspara, the Golden Warrior. Aspara steps straight out of Batu’s notebook cover―and out of Kazakhstan’s past. Aspara has been waiting hundreds of years to be summoned to the human world and to finally get his chance to search for the Golden Cup, a magical talisman sent down from the heavens. When the Golden Cup was lost, Aspara watched as many of his friends and family were killed or disappeared.

Craving adventure and a sense of purpose, Batu sets out with Aspara and his own friends to find the Golden Cup, plunging them into an adventure through a world where myths come alive. But there are others looking for the Cup, and they’ll do anything to make sure the kids fail. Will Batu and his friends make it out alive (and make it home in time for dinner)?

Editor review

1 review
Finding inner bravery
(Updated: June 08, 2023)
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The first unique aspect of the book is that it’s based on the culture of Kazakhstan. Kazakh vocabulary is introduced early on with Batu referring to his grandmother as his azhe, salemtsiz be is a Kazakh greeting, and bauyrsaq is a fried dough. Batu sits on the threshold of his apartment during the Kazakh new year called Nauryz which opens a doorway between worlds. That’s how he meets Aspara who’s been dead for over two thousand years and wants his help in finding the Golden Cup. Additional Kazakh folklore and history are a large part of the story that includes Kazakhstan’s past conflicts with Russia.
Batu is an interesting character as he struggles with self-confidence. A bully is extorting money from him and Batu is terrified to stand up for himself. Then, Aspara shows up and says Batu is a brave warrior. Batu lies when Aspara asks about his abilities while silently concealing his cowardice. This internal conflict lingers throughout the plot and is never far from Batu’s thoughts. Batu respects his elders and the traditions of his culture and these qualities, along with the bravery buried inside, will help him become an honorable warrior.
The plot offers unexpected twists to add new levels of complications. The bully pops up at school and at Batu’s apartment and he uses a large classmate as his muscle. It turns out there’s more to the bully’s efforts than what’s first seen and his henchman becomes a bigger part of the story than anticipated. In addition, Batu’s mother is in the hospital giving birth to a baby sister in what seems to be an unimportant side story. However, this event turns out to be more significant as Batu is forced to make some difficult decisions.
What didn’t work as well:
Batu’s character displays some conflicting behaviors that don’t always make sense. He’s transforming into a brave, honorable warrior in search of the Golden Cup but he then gloats and taunts a bully and later has angry, insulting outbursts toward his friends. Also, based on the book’s title, the ending will probably leave readers unsatisfied and confused.
The Final Verdict:
Using Kazakhstan as the setting and its culture as the basis for the story provides freshness in the middle-grade genre. The use of Kazakh folklore creates a familiar format to the plot with unique details sprinkled in. Despite the questionable ending, the overall book is interesting.
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