TBR Friday: Celebrating Black Authors, Part 2

Happy Friday! Last week, in honor of Black History Month, I shared some amazing titles off my TBR written by Black authors. I have a few more titles to share with you today that I’m really excited about, so let’s get to it!

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia; cover art by Eric Wilkerson


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 journal. 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 gods 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?

Every title that the Rick Riordan Presents imprint announces has me more excited than the last, and this is no exception. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky — my GOD what a title! — is the beginning of a new series from Kwame Mbalia, and the incredible combination of Black American mythology and African mythology sounds thrilling. The book doesn’t come out until 2020, which seems like a cruel eternity from now. (Seriously. I’m dying to read this book.) On the plus side, the long wait should give me plenty of time to check out the other titles on today’s list…

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland; cover design by David Curtis, photographed by Gustavo Marx


Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities — and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

I’m not sure why, but alternative history has never really appealed to me. Until now, that is. A Black heroine in Reconstruction-era America fighting zombies? Sign me all the way up. I bought this book shortly after it came out last year, but for various reasons it never made it to the top of my TBR pile. This year I rectify that mistake.

Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia C. McKissack & Onawumi Jean Moss and Kyrsten Brooker


When Precious is left home alone with a stomachache, she’s got nothing but a warning from Mama — “Don’t let nothing or nobody into this house” — to keep her company. You see, “nothing or nobody” could turn out to be something awful: the Boo Hag! The Boo Hag’s got a voice that rumbles like thunder and hair that shoots out like lightning. And she can disguise herself to look like anything. So when the Boo Hag comes calling, will Precious be clever enough to outwit even the trickiest trickster?

Last week I said I was always on the lookout for fun, spooky picture books with main characters of color, and I was thrilled to find a couple more for my TBR in my research for this week’s post. Based on the synopsis and the cover illustration, this looks like an absolute delight. I can’t stop giggling at what I assume is the Boo Hag floating past the barn.

The Three Witches collected by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas, and illustrated by Faith Ringgold


The three bad witches are HUNGRY! “Let’s eat these children,” they say. They may have teeth that are longer than their lips and they may wear high heels, but they are NO match for two smart children, their brave grandma, three hound dogs, and a fast-running snake.

Another delightful picture book! I don’t know what caught my eye first, the vibrant cover painting or Zora Neale Hurston’s name at the top of the book. Whichever one it was, there’s no way I could pass this title by. It sounds like a real gem. Plus, I’m obsessed with the blue witch and her completely mismatched eyes.

Those are the books I’m most excited about right now, kids…how about you? What are you reading this weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s