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Review: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

August 17, 2020

About the Book:

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia’s epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

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 there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s notebook. Tristan chases after it–is that a doll?–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly recommend this book.

I so loved reading it. Every night over the last few weeks I have looked forward to throwing myself into its pages. So rich and joyous and action packed. This is a must read. And if Disney doesn’t jump on this series for Disney+ then they are total fools! Gloriously detailed mythology is blended with a modern hero in a world built of stories. This is a terrific adventure.

Tristan Strong is a story teller and in terrible pain from losing his best friend. When a thief steals his best friend’s journal, Tristan is determined to get it back no matter what. But when he punches a hole in a tree he is thrown into a world of myth and legend, full of living folk tales with magic and horrors come to life. To fix what has broken Tristan joins forces with new friends full of fire, grit and determination, a moody living doll, animals who talk and figures of legend to save this incredible world.

Tristan is a smart hero, a thinker, a story-teller and a boxer. He is the perfect hero for this adventure. The worldbuilding is rich with description and magic. The legendary men, women and gods of black folk tales, mythology and stories passed down through the ages are the real heroes, and monsters of iron, boneships, evil spirits and trickster creatures are their foes to overcome. And it is Tristan and his friends who must stand against them, going on an epic journey to find the story-box and the missing weaver to repair the hole in the sky and save the people of this unique and colourful world.

I absolutely loved this story. Get it and read it now! For your kids, nieces and nephews, yourself, parents and grandparents. Everyone should read it. A fun, action-packed adventure.

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