Saturday, March 10, 2012

TJ and the Time Stumblers: New Kid Catastrophes

T.J. Finkelstein has a lot going on in her life. Her mother died, so her family has just moved from the Midwest to California to get a fresh start. That means T.J. has to start a new school, make new friends, and still do the cooking. To make matters worse, some time traveling students from the 23rd century have stopped at her doorstop to study her for their history project. The only problem is they keep interfering with her life.

Those familiar with Bill Myers’ writing style from Wally McDoogle books like My Life as a Tarantula Toe Tickler or My Life as a Smashed Burrito With Extra Hot Sauce, will find New Kid Catastrophes (T.J. and the Time Stumblers) written in like manner. The story is peppered with sound effects, such as chug-a-chug-a choke-a-CHOKE-a cough-COUGH-cough (the sound of the time travel pod running out of fuel) or blah-blah-blah- BLAH-blah-blah- blah-BLAH-blah (the sound of the snobbish girl Hesper talking on her cell phone). It follows T.J. as she tries to fit into her new life and junior high. No thanks to the time travelers, she fails miserably. (The time travelers accidentally turn friends into goldfish, students into flies, a science project into a killer kitty, and wreak all kinds of havoc.)

T.J. soon crosses paths with Hesper, teen star of the Dizzy channel. When a ball pops out of T.J.’s hands in PE class and breaks Hesper’s nose, T.J. becomes the target of great ire.

It’s fast-paced entertainment filled to the brim with humor.

What I Like: I always appreciate humor, and Bill Myers creates crazy, laugh-out-loud situations and comments. It makes for a fast read. Also, my son is a big Bill Myers fan, and that means a lot to me as a reviewer.

What I Dislike: The story is entertaining, but low on the faith aspect. That’s not a bad thing, it just depends on what you are looking for in a book. If it’s a clean, humorous story you want, yes, this is a great choice. If you want a story with a big take-away value, you might consider something else. Though written with a moral worldview, Page 127 is the first and only mention of anything related to Christianity in the book. Also, I was bothered by some stereotypes in the book. For example, the rich, beautiful girl is a self-centered snob. The smart boy is a geek who suffers from allergies and dresses in Goodwill rejects. Sigh. In addition, the story doesn’t provide closure. That’s probably because there are more books in the series to follow, which will bring about a more satisfying ending.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: Recommended for ages 8 and up. Main character is junior high school age.

Publisher Info: Tyndale Kids, 2011; ISBN:978-1414334530; Paperback,192 pgs., $6.99

Buy it Now at for $5.99
OR Buy it at for $6.99.

Special Info: Read a CCBR review of the second book in this series, as well as reviews of other books written by Bill Myers.

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Trace-n-the-Grace said...

just bookmarked this blog and so happy to find such a good resource. My Christian kids are 10, 8, and twin 7 year olds. We are always looking for GOOD books.

Lori Z. Scott said...

I'm with you on that one! Good luck!