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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

By: Kwame Mbalia

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?

ISBN: 9781368039932

JLG Release: Feb 2020


Sensitive Areas: Violence: Mild Violence
Topics: Adventure and adventurers , Supernatural , Characters in literature , Self-confidence , Science fiction , African Americans , Legends, myths, and fables , Friendship , Fantasy and magic

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Awards & Honors

Kirkus Best Books - 2019
Publishers Weekly Best Books - 2019
CPL Best Books - 2019
Coretta Scott King Author Book Award Honoree - 2020

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews*, Booklist*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books*

School Library Journal

Tristan is reluctantly on his way to spend the summer with his grandparents on the family farm. In his pocket he carries the journal of his best friend Eddie, killed in a bus accident. Tristan’s survivor guilt means he hasn’t read the journal, and he is trying very hard to ignore the strange green glow coming from its cover. When Gum Baby, a fi Tristan is reluctantly on his way to spend the summer with his grandparents on the family farm. In his pocket he carries the journal of his best friend Eddie, killed in a bus accident. Tristan’s survivor guilt means he hasn’t read the journal, and he is trying very hard to ignore the strange green glow coming from its cover. When Gum Baby, a figure from West African legend, tries to steal the journal, Tristan races to retrieve it, breaking a bottle on his grandmother’s bottle tree and falling through a flaming hole into a parallel world. Here, the stories Tristan’s grandmother tells are solidly real: in the course of breathless chases, close escapes, and mounting stakes, he meets John Henry, Brer Fox, High John the Conqueror, and other figures from African and African American folklore. A race to retrieve Anansi’s story box reveals Tristan’s destiny as an Anansesem, a storyteller of power, and makes him a pivotal figure in the saving of this strange new world. While the novel is lengthy, the pace is quick, secondary characterizations are nicely delineated, and the folkloric figures are heroic and true to their legends. The world-building includes evocative descriptions of skeleton ships, manacled monsters, and deadly villains. In addition to being rife with action, the story is rooted in the emotional journey of the protagonist; between making friends and losing them, Tristan finally makes peace with Eddie’s death. Part of the “Rick Riordan Presents” series, this debut novel offers a richly realized world, a conversational, breezy style, and a satisfying conclusion that leaves room for sequels.

Book Details

ISBN

9781368039932

First Release

February 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

6" x 8 3/4"

Page Count

496

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Rick Riordan Presents

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Violence: Mild Violence

Topics

Adventure and adventurers, Supernatural, Characters in literature, Self-confidence, Science fiction, African Americans, Legends, myths, and fables, Friendship, Fantasy and magic,

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Cover Art

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