A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Tristan Strong Keeps Punching features characters from African and African American folklore and mythology. It explores the hidden histories of cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, and Chicago.
When you're under attack, keep punching back. Storytelling gives meaning to the world. Anger is dangerous and needs to be controlled before people get hurt.
Positive Role Models
Tristan has witnessed a lot of tragedy, and grief has strengthened his resolve to keep his loved ones safe. He needs to control his anger and magic powers before they run wild and hurt his friends and family. He also must learn to be part of a team, especially when his allies are gods and spirits.
Tristan Strong Keeps Punching features a cast whose members are mostly African and African American. There are many powerful female characters, as well as many respected senior citizens. The action is set in locales with connection to the African diaspora.
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Violence & Scariness
There's a lot of violence in Tristan Strong Keeps Punching, much of it magical in nature but sometimes surprisingly realistic, especially when it addresses the issue of slavery. King Cotton kidnaps children and wounds Tristan's friends. Monsters know as Breakers are Cotton's primary minions, and they are usually disposed of without bloodshed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tristan seems to have a crush on Ayanna, who may be interested in return.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kwame Mbalia's Tristan Strong Keeps Punching is the final volume of the trilogy begun with Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. Tristan's magical friends, including the gods from Alke, are scattered across the country, lost and alone, and he swears to do anything he can to reunite them. There are violent battles, but it's mostly the mindless monsters known as Breakers that die, without much bloodshed. There's the tiniest hint of romance.
Is It Any Good?
The smart writer saves the best material for last, and this fantasy trilogy concludes with a titanic showdown worthy of the exceptional first two books. In Tristan Strong Keeps Punching, author Kwame Mbalia orchestrates Tristan's rescue mission so that his path intersects with key sites from Black history, giving the fantasy plot a richness beyond the usual fare. Tristan continues to mature over the course of the story, and readers will continue to enjoy his interactions with mythical characters such as Anansi, Ayanna, High John, King Cotton, and Gum Baby. By the time the story's climax arrives, Mbalia has cranked up the suspense to the point it's almost unbearable. The trilogy is complete, but there's room for more adventures in this universe. Tristan Strong deserves the right to keep punching,
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.