New Kid Catastrophes (TJ and the Time Stumblers Bk. 1) by Bill Myers
Middle grade readers will love this book. It should appeal to both boys and girls because it is a basic adventure book. Its primary theme is new kid on the block meets time travelers from the future. Make that bumbling time travelers on a school assignment. There are plenty of laughs to go around–good clean non-crude humor.
Meet Herby and Tuna, traveling from the future to invisibly observe their target historical figure for a school assignment. Since their arrival, everything seems to go wrong for them from hitting the dinosaur age to crash landing in the Pacific Ocean, to major malfunctions of their equipment. Their goal: Malibu, California. Their target: Thelma Jean Finkelstein, otherwise known as TJ to her family and friends back in Missouri. But here in California? That’s another matter entirely. And the piano that escaped the movers, rolled across the yard scooping up TJ in its path, crashing through the neighbor’s fence making a big splash in their swimming pool in front of a dozen or so 13-year-old classmates, including TJ’s new neighbor Chad Steel, was TJ’s introduction into the new school year.
Could it get any worse than that? It could and it did, no thanks to Herby and Tuna who attempted to “help” TJ through her first days at school. With that “help” came alienation of nearly the rest of her classmates, especially those who prostrated themselves before Hesper Breakahart; she was the star in her own TV series. Somehow, in Physical Education class (TJ thought it would be better termed Physical Embarrassment), a ball hit Hesper square in the nose. Everyone blamed TJ while Hesper was dramatically wheeled out by paramedics and taken to the hospital. How could it get any worse than that? It could and it did. But you’ll have to read the book to discover what happens next.
Besides the side-splitting humor in this short book, there are family dynamics to explore (TJ’s mom died of cancer recently) and social dynamics to learn from. This book, like the many others written by this author is not just a fluff piece. There are valuable lessons taught within the humorous events, just enough to prompt young readers to think. Parents will love this. Books like this were something I searched for when my children were the age this book is written for.
If you are looking for a hilarious, fast-paced adventure for your children to read, this is one I highly recommend.
I am reading and reviewing this book for the Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. summer reading program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”