Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
When I found out bestselling author Rick Riordan was creating his unique imprint for middle-grade readers; I was very excited. Since the imprint’s launch, one of these latest debut novels: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, is such a fantastic, remarkable story. It is a blend of African folklore, African American history, and African mythology.
Losing his best friend Eddie in a horrific bus crash, Tristan is struggling with his sadness. To help with his recovery, his parents send him to stay with his grandparents in Alabama for a month, Tristan brings Eddie’s journal, to remind himself of home and his dear friend, he reluctantly goes. His adventure leads him to a little sticky laced doll baby named Gum Baby, and she is his perfect comrade bringing humor to the story. An annoying, loud-mouthed. She steals Eddie’s journal from him and takes off. He follows the Gum Baby into some eerie woodlands and around the strange bottle tree. There as he is grappling with recovering the journal, he unwittingly penetrates a hole in the fabric of the cosmos, unlocking a hole to another realm identified as MidPass.
The world of African American adventures all jammed packed into this fantasy. Individual elements that are facing human struggle which person he wants to be. Mbalia has written a relatable series that is a fresh modern adventure. A well-crafted world full of enchantment. Some of the scenes are tense, but they also come alive with strong characters that give this novel an even pace that is not long-winded.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an excellent novel for both kids and grown-ups and will keep readers enthralled page after page.
Have you read or listened to the audiobook? What do your young readers think of Tristan Strong?
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About Annisha Jeffries
Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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