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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

(Tristan Strong #1)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  8,372 ratings  ·  1,722 reviews
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night the ...more
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents
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Wolfkin Thematically if you're familiar with the Percy Jackson series this has a lot similar. It's about a normal kid throw into a world of myth gone real.

Thematically if you're familiar with the Percy Jackson series this has a lot similar. It's about a normal kid throw into a world of myth gone real.

In this case Tristan is young teen suffering from his friend dying and on a retreat at his grandparents a gum baby steals his best friend's journal he chases after it and ends up in a world where West African and Black American myth is real. So classic characters like Anansi the spider trickster and John Henry the man who out worked machines are real and he helps them fix their world so he can get home.(less)
Billy Seventh grader, Tristan Strong has gone through many things such as his best friend, Eddie who recently passed away in a car crash. Kwame Mbalia makes…moreSeventh grader, Tristan Strong has gone through many things such as his best friend, Eddie who recently passed away in a car crash. Kwame Mbalia makes this story really good. I'd suggest reading this as a read aloud. Brer Fox is a main charecter. If you have ever read peter rabbit then you might reconize this charecter also GumBaby from a story,a story, a african tale by Gail Hailey. Basically Gumbaby and Tristan meet and she steals eddies diary. Find out for yourself now for this heartwarming book. PS There is a sequel too:)(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  8,372 ratings  ·  1,722 reviews

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Rick Riordan
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don’t get me wrong. Greek myths are great! But you can’t swing a gorgon’s head in any bookstore without hitting at least a dozen Greek-myth-inspired books.

Try finding great adventures based on Western African gods and heroes like Nyame or Anansi. Try finding stories about modern kids who encounter African-American folk legends like High John, John Henry and Brer Rabbit. Those books are a lot harder to locate, despite that fact that millions of kids would relate to those gods and heroes even mor
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is a debut! Really!?
I need a moment to wrap my mind around that.

This is a hella ambitious first novel. I am really dang impressed.

Kwame Mbalia, you should be proud! With the initial swooning out of the way, let's get into the review, shall we?

Tristan Strong, a 7th-grader from Chicago, has been having a real tough time recently. After losing his best friend, Eddie, in a horrific bus crash, Tristan is struggling with his grief and
The Artisan Geek
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

FINISHED! What a story, I laughed and I cried, but I mainly laughed! So fun to read a book about African gods!! :D My review will be up next week!! ;)

A HUGE thank you to Disney Hyperion for gifting me a copy of this book! #Blessed

Did I hear that correctly? Black American Gods??? My gosh this book sounds so good!! I can't wait!

You can find me on
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J  (Midnight Book Blog)
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Somehow, this book had me laughing, crying, and screaming “WHOA, plot twist” at my family.

I very much underestimated this book. I think because it’s technically a middle-grade read, I was expecting it to be slow, easy, and predictable. Let me tell you, it was none of the above. I’m not even sure where to begin here, so let’s just go with the characters. Tristan is the most developed protagonist I have read about in a long while. I loved that he wasn’t sure of himself in every step of his quest
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
UPDATE: It looks like the author is finally getting his own copyright, with Last Gate of the Emperor soon to be released. The cover look awesome and the story sounds great; I am all in for the MC's bionic lioness.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Nope, his new book is also from Cake Literary; although its co-author (the great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia) gets shared copyright with Cake, none for Kwame!


It's a pretty good middle-grade book, with ab
may ➹
This book truly captures the heart of middle grade for me: the lovable characters, the fun adventures, and the humor, all paired with important themes and messages. Generational trauma and the importance of remembering the pains of the past were tackled so well here, especially for the target audience of children, as well as general themes of grief and guilt. Tristan was such a wonderful protagonist, a kid who wants to be a hero but still with fears and doubts, especially because of how he belie ...more
Drew's ambitious reading
Finished reading this at work tonight! Such a great first book by Kwame! Super excited for the sequel now!(:
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (Storygram Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

So first off I just want to say that it is incredibly refreshing to read a book about mythology that isn’t Greek. I know very little about African/African American mythology so it was fun to learn about it through reading this book.

Since this is the first book in a new series, it is a little slow. That is understandable since there is a lot of world building and set-up
Ashley Nuckles
Much different than I was expecting, but still a wild ride! I loved Tristan so much!!
Jade Ratley
May 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
4.14 on CAWPILE
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
oh how I love adventurous middle-grades full of witty characters, twists and turns, and lush mythology.
J. Greene
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never wanted to be a superhero as a child, but I wanted to do heroic things. Tristan Strong epitomizes the dreams of young black children who want to do and be both; be heroes/heroines and do heroic things. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the Harry Potter for young black children. (A heavy claim, I know.) It is a grabbing combination of African folklore, African American history, African mythology, and the innate magic that is Blackness.

Tristan Strong just lost his best friend. His
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I hate to feel so lukewarm about a book coming from such a cool storytelling tradition (as soon as I saw that it's based on African-American folklore, I was all over it), but honestly it was a slog. It is a very long book for middle grade, with lots of locations, characters, and SYMBOLISM.

The best parts of the story were in the beginning, where Tristan is interacting with his family. I think Tristan's recurring thoughts on adults are a great theme - adults are always telling him what to do, with
Oct 06, 2018 added it
Shelves: audiobooks
this book didn't pull any punches (pun intended) and hit all the right places. i love the pacing very much and it has a lot of action-packed scenes that kept my restless brain engaged. i also adore the characters and the humor in the dialogue. gum baby is obviously the star of this book and im looking forward to seeing more of her in the sequel. i don't really know much about african american folktales and west african mythology so it was a pleasure to be introduced to all these interesting stor ...more
Apr 18, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
DUUUUDE. I don't even care that it's MG, Imma read it ...more
Nikki S
**EDIT 2/4/2019**

Y'all this cover gave me CHILLS. Like real, legit chills.

**EDIT 10/12/2019**

SWEET PEACHES THAT WAS GOOD! Real review to come.

**EDIT 10/24/19**

You can find more of my reviews here at my blog: Take Me Away...

I have started and restarted this review so many times. I even had to stop one night so I could sleep on it. But I just didn't think I could get this review right. There's so much in this book tto hhat I didn't think I'd ever see in a book, let alone one for kids.

Tristan St
Amy Imogene Reads
Jan 25, 2022 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Stories are a kind of magic. This is no such average story—it IS magic.

Concepts: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★★★

Let's say there was a land where the People once lived...

Sometimes there are stories that you didn't know needed to be in your bones until you hear them crackle in your head with the force of thunder. Their rightness sits in your skin and you feel the chills hit your shoulders and travel down your body with the sense of "I'm here, let me tell you a story
What an important series. I am so thankful for Rick Riordan’s ability to raise other amazing writers up.

This book was a wild ride and I loved it. Mythology has never been one of my favorite genres, but this book was just incredible.

We get to travel with Tristan through African (and African American) mythology and legends while he also learns to heal from his own loss.

Loved it. Loved how much I learned about some myths/legends and folklore that I had never been exposed to, and I can’t wai
Oct 12, 2020 added it
Poignant. Wonderful. And so necessary for the young ones coming up, needing to see themselves in stories full of adventure, magic, and truth.
This was fabbity fab! I'ave always had a soft place in my heart for John Henry, and I love the Brer Rabbit stories as well. Seeing them, along with other African and African American myths and folktales, brought to life in gorgeous detail, was a delight. And Tristan was pretty great, too. He reminded me of Miles Morales, and I loved how he used his "power." I can't believe this is Mbalia's first book, because it's just . . .well, fab! ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
my new favorite middle grade!
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020

What is it with 2020 and all these books I’m excited for letting me down?

This book was one I was anticipating reading. West African gods and African American folk heroes along with middle grade adventure? Sign me up! And while I loved reading about these legends, there were many elements to this book that left me unsatisfied.

But I’ll first talk about what I liked. I did enjoy reading from Tristan’s perspective. As well, the parts about him and Eddie were emotional. I’m a sucker for angst, w
Ms. Woc Reader
May 05, 2022 rated it it was ok
I was doing a great job reading at least one backlist book every month and then I kind of fell off. So this month was a return to it as I decided to finally read Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky which I've owned for a couple of years.

Tristan is sent to stay with his grandparents on their farm in Alabama after a tragic accident in which he looses his best friend. Tristan ends up in this alternate universe after a strange doll-like being sneaks into his room and steals his journal. Tristan
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Chicago teenager Tristan Strong is sent to his grandparents in Alabama for the summer after his friend Eddie is killed in an accident. On his first night there, a creature steals Eddie's journal and Tristan chases him into the woods, where Tristan accidentally punches a hole into the ground near a bottle tree, breaking one of the bottles and tearing a hole into another realm. He and the creature (Gum Baby) (the thief) fall into the realm taking a freed haint with them. Tristan finds himself in a ...more

Rick's introduction to this book gave me all the feels. I am so glad this series and the whole Rick Riordan Presents imprint exists. This book is phenomenal.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the first in a trilogy about Tristan Strong, a Black boy in seventh grade. After a bad boxing match, Tristan heads out to his grandparents house full of feelings he doesn't know how to process. Not only is he dealing with family expectations about boxing, but also grieving the death of his be
Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany)
One of the newest additions to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky offers a middle grade adventure story that integrates figures from West African mythology and African American folk heroes as characters. It's fast-paced and action packed with rich symbolism and subtle (for middle grade) messaging about the importance of collective memory and unity among Black people from different places. It's also a story of a seventh-grader from Chicago grieving the dea ...more
Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice)
My first time reading a book published by the Rick Riordan imprint and I wasn't disappointed!

We follow a young black boy called Tristian who after losing his closest friend in an accident moves into his grandparents' house in Alabama for the time being. He still treasures his friend's journal which is filled with fantasy worlds and creative stories. However, when Tristian encounters a strange creature trying to steal the journal, he ends up kicking the side of a tree in frustration and tumbles i
Belles Middle Grade Library
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Sweet peaches!! This was so good!! I am all about this book! Being from the south, & also living 45 minutes from Chicago for a few years, I was all about the dialogue. It especially took me back to the south, whether with Tristan’s dialogue himself, or a couple of the God’s in particular. It felt like home reading this book, hearing them in my head if that makes sense. LOVED. I love how Tristan almost talks to us the reader at parts, & often tries to paint the picture of whatever he is talking a ...more
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This was so much damn fun! I don't know a ton of West African folklore but I know I've interacted with it in very brief capacities through out films and TV and some books. It was cool to have a contemporary setting that pulls in West African folklore. It was all fun and quick. I loved Tristan Strong as a character. His life hasn't been easy but he has pieces that...honestly most people can see a connection to. I am super curious to see how we will fix the fantasy world/setting which was ripped o ...more
Mar 28, 2019 marked it as brother-tbr
Shelves: fantasy, new-2020
definitely getting this for my little brother. the only books he reads that aren’t comic books are about black superhero-types in 7th or 8th grade. he’s a kid of weird taste
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