Ari Reviews: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is a children’s fantasy book that will take young readers into a world of gods, monsters, villains, and heroic folklore legends. The story tells of a seventh grader named Tristan Strong who feels horrible in not being able to save his best friend Eddie during a bus accident they were both in. All Tristan has left of his best friend is Eddie’s journal which contains the stories Eddie collected that were from the folktales told by Tristan’s grandmother to both boys. When Tristan finds out he will be spending a whole month of his summer vacation at his grandparent’s farm in Alabama to help him heal from the trauma of the bus accident he is not happy. Tristan’s first night in Alabama gets off to an interesting start when a random creature named Gum Baby appears and takes Eddie’s journal. Tristan goes after the mysterious creature and ends up in a tug-of-war with it under a magical bottle tree that is a barrier between two worlds-the familiar world of Tristan and other world full of magic. When Tristan attempts to punch the creature, he hits the tree instead and it opens up a portal into the world of the MidPass which is an island in the Burning Sea that has haunted bone ships and monsters.  Tristan encounters two gods named John Henry and Brer Rabbit. He also encounters Brer Fox along with High John. These characters represent African and African American folklore.  John Henry and Brer Rabbit who will lead Tristan and others on a quest to get the god Anansi to seal the hole in the sky in the MidPass. Will Tristan and his new friends save the world and will he find peace over his best friend’s death? You will have to read more to find out.