Book Club in a Bag: Tristan Strong

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11: Book Club in a Bag (also known as Leap Off the Page, since we already have book club kits at our library, and the original name became confusing). This week: Tristan Strong by Kwambe Mbalia.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In May, these featured characters or books included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

Check out these previously featured Book Club kits:

Elephant & Piggie (Mo Willems)
Mindy Kim (Lyla Lee)
Yasmin (Saadia Faruqi)
Azaleah Lane (Nikki Shannon Smith)
Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
New Kid (Jerry Craft)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dana Simpson)
Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Tristan Strong Kit

The Tristan Strong Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like notebooks) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Tristan Strong Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email ( for editable files.

Tristan Strong General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Tristan Strong kit is no different.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF featuring all kit activities here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing readalikes here.

The Tristan Strong readalikes bookmark features these titles:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing discussion questions here.

The Tristan Strong Discussion Questions included:

  • When Tristan Strong first talks about his name he states, “I hated that name. It made me appear to be something I’m not. My name should have been Tristan Coward, or Tristan Failure, or Tristan Fake.” Based upon this statement, how does Tristan feel about himself? How does his family view him? Is there something about yourself that you have disliked in the past? Why?
  • As Tristan narrates the novel, he often talks about “grown-ups.” Based upon his perspective, how is he treated by adults? How does he view the adults in his life?
  • How did the author make connections to other folktales and myths?
  • Describe the first interaction between Gum Baby and Tristan. What characteristics are evident about Gum Baby? Do you think Gum
  • Baby is a friend or foe? Why?

Find more discussion questions at

This bag also included a 2.25″ button and a map of Alke.

Download the button templates here.

Download the map of Alke here.

Tristan Strong Crafts, Games, and More

I feel like I failed Tristan Strong on these bonus activities. This is one of my favorite book series ever, but I floundered on the inspiration for these activities. I hope to come back to this book series someday to give it a better kit.

The main activity was writing focused — participants got their own small notebook and a fable writing instruction guide.

Slideshare not working? Download the fable writing guide here.

Second, participants received a half sheet with suggested African American myth and folklore books for kids. I think this is where I started floundering for kit content because I wanted to provide a much more detailed collection of folklore books by African American or African authors — and these are very few and far between (especially anything new published in the last decade).

Slideshare not working? Download the book list here.

The last activity was a simple memory game. I wanted this to be something a little more nuanced, but it did let me use the wonderful artwork on the Rick Riordan blog.

Slideshare not working? Download the memory game here.


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