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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

(Tristan Strong #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,825 ratings  ·  1,147 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
Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Disney Hyperion
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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)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  4,825 ratings  ·  1,147 reviews

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Rick Riordan
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is a debut!? Really!?

Hold up, y'all. 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 recently been having a tough time. After losing his best friend, Eddie, in a horrific bus crash, Tristan is struggling with his g
The Artisan Geek
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Juliana (Midnight Book Blog)
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
Finished reading this at work tonight! Such a great first book by Kwame! Super excited for the sequel now!(:
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
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
It's a pretty good middle-grade book, with absolutely fantastic cover art, I mean just look at that thing. I am not in the target demographic, so take my comments as you will. I am at least superficially familiar with some of the myths and characters informing this story, with my earliest exposure being the controversial Disney film (aren't they all?) Song of the South, which was never released on home video in the U.S., but since I didn't live there I had access to it.

I would have preferred to
Ashley Nuckles
Much different than I was expecting, but still a wild ride! I loved Tristan so much!!
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
oh how I love adventurous middle-grades full of witty characters, twists and turns, and lush mythology.
J. Greene
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
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
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
DUUUUDE. I don't even care that it's MG, Imma read it ...more
Erin Boyington
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
Poignant. Wonderful. And so necessary for the young ones coming up, needing to see themselves in stories full of adventure, magic, and truth.
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
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
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
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my new favorite middle grade!
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
temi ★
Mar 28, 2019 marked it as brother-tbr  ·  review of another edition
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
3.5 stars. This was fun, action-packed story, even while its main character was dealing with a heavy load of grief and guilt over his best friend's death, as well as the pressures from his family to be someone he doesn't feel he is.
The mix of African and African American myth with a contemporary viewpoint in the main character is nicely handled. Tristan is a good kid who's struggling with multiple things; being catapulted into a magical and mystical realm and having to fight his way through mul
Ms. Yingling
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tristan's parents send him from his home in Chicago to stay with his grandparents in Alabama for the summer so that he can try to find a new way forward after the death of his best friend Eddie in a bus accident. He feels inadequate for several reasons; he failed to save his friend, he doesn't box as well as his father, and his Granddad thinks he is soft and doesn't work hard enough. His Nana, who tells him lots of stories, is the only one who seems to understand.
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Tristan Strong was my most anticipated middle grade read for 2019 and of course that meant I put it off. I shouldn’t have. It was great. I ended up reading it with Sammie and Leelynn. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me and discussing the book.

This is a really important book for African(-American) youths because it stands strong amidst the themes of slavery within the African (-American) folklore and legends. I think Leelyn talks about this theme better in her review than I as a wh
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sci-Fi & Scary
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia took me right out of my comfort zone of known mythos and plunked me down in an unfamiliar world that I ended up totally invested in.
I loved the main character. Tristan Strong – who feels like he’s failed every time something important has happened – has no desire to be a hero. If he tries, who knows what else bad will happen. I feel that. Feel that down to my bones. I know there are many younger readers who will be unfortunately familiar w
Sep 25, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020, dnf
Not rating this one. Middle grade fantasy just isn't for me. I suspected that might be the case but my book club had chosen this one and I thought I'd give it a try. But after 5 chapters, I knew this wasn't my thing. I'm sure it's a great book for anyone who loves this genre. My son loves all of Rick Riordan's stuff so I'm going to give this one to him and I'm sure he'll love it. ...more
Absolutely earns the hype. Fantastic coming-of-age story, full of american folklore and joyous afrofuturism, built around a core of grief and how it must be acknowledged but not allow it to overcome you.

Definitely went through some culture shock with how everybody just says what's on their mind, good and definitely bad, (cue Jasmine doing canadian shock and "you can't just say things like that" faces), but once I shook myself clear of that it was just a delight.
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