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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

(Tristan Strong #1)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,363 ratings  ·  373 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 ...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)
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,363 ratings  ·  373 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
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Holy smokes!!!

That was a debut???

Y'all, Tristan Strong is a hella ambitious first novel that felt like an entire world being constructed in front of your eyes.

I am really dang impressed with this!

Okay, now with the initial swooning out of the way, let's get into the review.

Tristan Strong is a 7th grader who has had a tough time of late. After losing his best friend in a horrific bus crash, Tristan is struggling with his grief and feels like no one understands him.

This is a solid story. With solid, memorable characters, and an intriguing concept. The writing, also, is solid. The fact that this is a debut is astounding. I completely understand why Rick Riordan picked it for publishing. I would have done the same thing. This story deserves to be out there, because it is not more of the same. The diversity and unusualness of the types of characters/creatures made it exciting to my eyes, from the beginning.

There is even one character that I actively thought
The Artisan Geek
------------------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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Apr 18, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
DUUUUDE. I don't even care that it's MG, Imma read it
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
Oct 06, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The Rick Riordan Imprint is actually here giving us quality content. I'M HERE FOR THIS BOOK. YAAASSSS
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.

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 ...more
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
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 ...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,
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary | "Empathy" - Look it up.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Skyby 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
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
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves
THIS is such an incredible book and i'm so blown away by how much it accomplished without it ever feeling like "too much". it has clear motives and morals without ever being heavy-handed. i do wish we got a little more friendship scenes from ayanna and tristan but i also found them to be very believable! and i really like thandiwe! and i think miss sarah & miss rose were implied 2 be in love but honestly it was unclear. either way i do like them too!!

if ur a fan of stories about stories and
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.
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.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-g, fantasy-low
representation: black main characters
content warnings: death of friend, grief, intense sequences

This was just a well written book filled with heart, action, and two intensely likable main character - and yes, I'm counting Gum Baby as a main character because she stole the show for me. This book is a prime example of why middle grade is totally winning the game at times if you are looking for a book with vivid imagination and hope.

I really enjoyed this book. It was wholly unique and so
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
Brandy Painter
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
This is a truly excellent novel-both fun and well written. It deals with some difficult themes and experiences, while also maintaining a perfect MG tone. It's clear why it is included in Riordan's new imprint. Dare I say it is better crafted than most of Riordan's own work though? The characters are strong and well drawn. There is humor, high stakes, and a lot of adventure. I really enjoyed the way it used both African and American folklore. I can tell this is going to be one of those series I ...more
Karly Grice
One of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. It’s American Gods meets Neverending Story meets Wizard of Oz. It’s a love letter to storytelling and African American culture. So much heart and humor, so smart and challenging. When people ask me what makes good children’s books, my answer is often “it respects children and their capabilities/sensibilities”; Mbalia has done just that. All teachers and children’s lit peeps should move this book up on their must read list and put it in ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-favs, 2020
my new favorite middle grade!
Nicole M. Hewitt
This review (along with a GIVEAWAY) and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

This book is absolutely packed with rich storytelling—both African and African American folklore that many middle graders have probably never encountered before. It’s difficult to even unpack how many different stories are rolled into this adventure and brought to life in a new way. (I’d actually love it if Rick Riordan Presents would do a companion that goes deeper into each individual tale,
Lorie Barber
Thank you to NetGalley for a digital copy of this book.
I absolutely LOVED Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. Kesler Mbalia weaves (pun intended, you’ll get it when you read it) beautiful African hero folktales, a modern-day setting and main character, and laugh-out-loud supporting characters together in a tale for these trying times. Tristan learns and grows so much through his quest, overcoming fears and guilt to understand who he really is and what it means to be “strong.” Considering
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book smashed through my heart like Tristan's fist through the Bottle Tree-it really is that good. Drawing on African American folklore, full of legendary heroes, and nearly infallible tricksters, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is exactly the type of middle grade anyone can enjoy. The characters are cleverly written, the plot is full of exciting twists, and don't even get me started on the storytelling. I can't wait to sell this to everyone I know!
Laura Gardner
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
adventure, humor and fantasy all wrapped into one
TRISTAN —a brave protagonist who is in touch with his emotions fabulous secondary characters (Gum Baby is my favorite and John Henry is a close second)
AMAZING narration (audio is just outstanding!)
magic and myth rooted in Black American history
˗ˏˋ aphrodite ˊˎ˗
**2.5/5 stars

this was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 as I am always looking for diverse mythology and anansi is one of the most interesting deities across all cultures. unfortunately it left me disappointed :(

I will say that I did enjoy how symbolism was played in a subtle way with the villains as well as the character interactions, specifically gum baby who was hilarious (also the audiobook is FANTASTIC !!) I also liked how “flawed” tristan is and the growth he goes through in the
Goodreads lists this latest installment in the Rick Riordan Presents lineup as the first of a series, but it could also work pretty well as a standalone piece. Which might explain why there's no "coming soon" at the end of the book listing the title of the next installment. But Kwame Mbalia gives us an excellent debut in Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, a sprawling and mind-bending tour through a world of West African gods and black folk heroes. And as far as Rick Riordan and Rick ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75* Another one of Rick Riordan's imprint, this book is about African mythology. Tristan is a 7th grader who had just lost his best friend in a bus accident. He's been sent to his grandparents'farm in Alabama to spend the summer. His grandmother has always told stories about African gods and folktales. When he chased a creature into a Bottle Tree, he found himself in a mythical land where the stories are true. He also inadvertently brought a bad spirit with him into this land and this was ...more
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