Monday, February 27, 2012

TJ and the Time Stumblers: OOPS!

OOPS!, is the third book in Bill Myers series TJ and the Time Stumblers. Everyone at school thinks TJ -- a.k.a. "Thelma Jean" or "The New Kid" -- is crazy or an alien. This could be because she carries on a running dialog with two invisible time travelers from the 23rd century who've come to train her to be a great world leader.

This book opens with the seventh-grader and her time traveling buddies being chased through the school by a British-accented African elephant. As is typical for TJ, things only get worse from there.

Through a course of snowballing catastrophes and monumental embarrassments, TJ discovers that what she thinks really matters. In her case, this is evidenced (among other things) by a malfunctioning "Thought Broadcaster Pen." At first the broken device simply relays everyone's thoughts through cell phones, but before long it actually transforms people into what TJ thinks of them. (Picture big babies, jittery puppets and chickens.) TJ's dad and her new friend, Chad, remind her that "each of us is God's creation" and "we all need to be loved."

But can TJ really control her thoughts? At what cost to life, limb and the future of the human race?

What I Like: Everything about this book is attractive to the target audience. It's wacky, entertaining, and moves at a good pace. The text includes changes in font and appearance. Action and humor begin on page one and continue to the end. I like the encouragement to be positive toward others both in words and in thoughts; the assertion that everyone was created by God and that they just want to be loved. I appreciate the explanation that many people can behave in arrogant or odd ways out of insecurity.

What I Dislike: The point of the book is to think and speak well of others, but the author consistently employs stereotypes with a snarky tone. This even extends to the names of characters including Bruiseabone, Mindlessfan and Tauntalot. This seems contradictory.

The overuse of caricatures and the silliness in the story seem to overshadow the message (which, by the way, isn't introduced until halfway through the book). I would have loved to see more emphasis on the point and less on the nonsense. An included Scripture passage (Philippians 4:8, for example), perhaps in a note from the author, would also solidify the truth behind the book's moral.

Also, I hesitate mentioning this, but I don't like the cover. The illustration accentuates TJ's breasts and the title is nearly indiscernible

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Tyndale House, 2011; ISBN: 1414334559; Paperback; 160 pages; $6.99

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Special Info: See our reviews of other books by this author, including some in this series.

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1 comment:

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