New Kid Catastrophes

New Kid Catastrophes

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by Bill Myers

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This six-book series centers around two 23rd century goofballs, Tuna and Herby, who travel back in time to study TJ Finkelstein for their history project. TJ will someday become a great leader who demonstrates honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, self-sacrifice, respect for others—all traits she hones and grasps through her adventures in this series.

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This six-book series centers around two 23rd century goofballs, Tuna and Herby, who travel back in time to study TJ Finkelstein for their history project. TJ will someday become a great leader who demonstrates honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, self-sacrifice, respect for others—all traits she hones and grasps through her adventures in this series. Unfortunately, Tuna and Herby get stuck in TJ’s time (modern day), so she has to deal with their schemes while juggling the normal issues of a seventh grader who has moved to a new city, is trying to fit in, and is coping with her mother’s death and her family’s new life. In New Kid Catastrophes, TJ accidentally makes an enemy of Hesper Breakahart, the superstar who attends their school. And Tuna and Herby’s attempts to help just lead to one disaster after another. In the end, TJ is still very unpopular, but she learns the value of looking past appearances and gains a few friends—and the attention of the most popular boy in school.

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Product Details

Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
TJ and the Time Stumblers , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

New Kid Catastrophes

By Bill Myers

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Bill Myers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3453-0

Chapter One

Beginnings ...


Malibu, California, october 9

Begin Transmission: 21st-century education is majorly weird. Kids sit in boring rooms listening to boring grown-ups talk about boring subjects. What a torked way to learn. Have encountered subject. She's as smoot as her holographs in the history museum. Soon she will encounter Chad Steel, her next-door neighbor. Bummer, 'cause she really is smoot. I think Tuna is in love. Me too. She's smooted to the max! end Transmission

"TJ, look out!"

Thelma Jean Finkelstein glanced up just in time to see the family's grand piano racing toward her. The moving guys were rolling it down the ramp of the moving van. Well, they had been rolling it. Now it was rolling itself, faster than a speeding bullet with TJ as the target.

The way she figured, she had three choices:

CHOICE #1—Become piano roadkill.

CHOICE #2—Leap to the left and into the pool. Usually no prob—she loved swimming (except her hair always frizzed out). The problem today was the pool was empty and she was near the deep end. Deep as in, call the ambulance, 'cause she'll be breaking both of her legs kinda deep.

CHOICE #3—Leap to the right. Again, no prob, except for that pesky sliding glass door. Somehow, regaining consciousness while attendants picked broken glass out of her hair (in that same ambulance) was not how she wanted to spend her first day in Malibu, California.

This left TJ with Choice #4. (I know she figured three choices, but she's never been good at math.) The ever-popular leap on top of the gas barbecue and hope the piano somehow misses you choice.

A great idea. Except the piano didn't somehow miss her ... or the barbecue. Instead, it sort of


into the barbecue and sent TJ flying into the air.

Actually, the flying part was easy. It was the landing that wasn't so great. The good news was she didn't land in the pool or slam into the sliding glass door. The bad news was she landed on top of the piano ... which was still rolling ... straight toward the neighbors' fence!

By now her whole family had run around the house to see what all the hysterical screaming and pants-wetting was about.

Dad was giving his usual Dad advice: "TJ, quit fooling around and get off that piano this instant!"

Little six-year-old Dorie was jumping up and down shouting in her cute little six-year-old voice, "Yippee! Can I go next? Can I go next?"

Nine-year-old Violet (part-time genius and full-time pain in the neck) was already scheming. "If she dies, can I have her room?"

And what family get-together would be complete without Fido the Wonder Dog barking his little wonder-dog head off?

TJ would have loved to stick around and chitchat with everyone, but it's hard chitchatting when you're hanging on for your life and screaming your lungs out.

And the fun and games weren't exactly over. She still had to introduce herself to the neighbors. Unfortunately, this involved having to


through their fence and join the little pool party they were having.

Fortunately, they were kids her age and probably attended the same school she'd be starting tomorrow.

Unfortunately, they were kids her age and probably attended the same school she'd be starting tomorrow.

Sigh ...

Of course, the guests did the usual screaming and shouting. "Run for your lives; it's a crazy girl riding a piano!" But they didn't have to worry. Their pool was full of water, which explains the


of the grand piano ... and the

glug ... glug ... glug

of its sinking to the bottom. (With luck this would mean no piano lessons till Dad bought another one ... or at least till he got TJ some cool scuba gear.)

She thought of sticking around and swimming a few laps (to work off that extra pizza she had for lunch), but there was something about 20 rich and snobbish 13-year-olds all staring down at her that made her change her mind.

Then there was the most gorgeous boy she'd ever seen in her life. He was stooping down and reaching out his hand to her.

"Hey, are you all right?" he asked.

After coughing up a gallon of water, she nodded and took his hand.

"I'm Chad," he said. "Chad Steel."

She climbed out of the pool, a droopy, drippy mess, and looked into his incredible blue eyes.

He grinned. "It looks like we're neighbors."

She nodded, unable to take her eyes from his.

He kept smiling. "And your name is?"

She wanted to introduce herself but was having a hard time finding her voice, much less remembering her name. (Incredible blue eyes will do that to a person.)

He cocked his head, waiting for an answer.

Come on, TJ, she thought. (It is TJ, isn't it?)

His smile sagged a little.

It was now or never. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

Those beautiful blue eyes darkened with concern. Not concern like I will love and cherish you until the day you die concern. More like What mental hospital did you escape from? concern.

But TJ was determined to say something, anything. Unfortunately, she did: "You're ... you're gorgeous."

* * *

"Blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah"

At least that's what Chad heard over his cell phone as Hesper, his sorta girlfriend, kept talking and talking and talking some more. Honestly, did the girl ever stop to take a breath?

But Chad was a nice guy and didn't want to be rude, so he let her continue

"Blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah"-ing

Of course, it would help if the blah-ing wasn't always about Hesper. Then again, it wasn't her fault that she had her own TV series on the Dizzy Channel. It wasn't her fault everyone made a fuss over her. And it wasn't her fault she thought the world revolved around her. (Actually, not the world; more like the entire solar system or galaxy or ... well, you get the idea.)

The only good thing about her talking so much was that it drowned out his parents' fighting. It was like a rule or something. Whenever Dad visited, Chad's parents fought. Even though they'd been divorced for, like, forever, you could always plan on the world's biggest shouting match whenever he stopped by. Funny how people think having money makes you happy. As far as Chad figured, it was just the opposite.

Anyway, now he was sitting at his desk, slaving over a book report. Well, if you call staring out your second-story window at the house next door and thinking about your new neighbor "slaving." He guessed her window was the closest to his. And I do mean close. Houses on the beach were built so tightly together that if you sneezed, your neighbor could reach out the window and hand you a tissue.

But her window was closed and her lights were out. She was probably already in bed. And who could blame her? It must have been a busy day for her. Busy and embarrassing ...

First there was the crashing of his party—as in CRASHING.

Then there was making the big splash—as in BIG SPLASH.

Finally, when he pulled her out of the pool, all she could do was stand around shivering and stuttering. And trying to fix her hair. Lots of trying to fix her hair.

Girls. Go figure.

Once they'd taken her inside and she dried off, he had tried to help her relax by saying he'd see her in school tomorrow. She smiled, tried fixing her hair, and ran out the door.

(Well, she meant to run out the door. There was that little problem of forgetting to open it first.)

The best Chad figured, she had some mental issues. He'd never met a mentally challenged person before, but it was cool. If she needed his help, he'd be there to lend a hand.

In the meantime, there was his book report and, of course ...

"Blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah"


* * *

"TJ?" Little Dorie whispered into her big sister's face.

"TJ, you awake?"

"No," TJ said, "I'm sound asleep."


"Don't bother me."

"TJ, wake up."

Trying to ignore Dorie was like trying to figure out compound fractions: impossible. Her cute little fingers began prying open TJ's unhappy little eyelids. And a moment later, TJ was staring at her sister's blurry face two inches in front of her.

Knowing the routine, TJ pulled back the covers and said, "All right, get in, Squid."

Dorie crawled into the bed and scooted her back nice and close to TJ. Ever since Mom died, Dorie had a hard time sleeping by herself. And although TJ pretend to be annoyed by her (pretending to be annoyed is Rule #1 in the Big Sister Handbook), she understood.

Funny, it had been almost a year, but it felt like yesterday. People always said it would get better, but TJ had her doubts. It's like there was this big hole inside her chest that would never, never, go away. Dorie and Vi felt it too. And so did Dad.

In fact, though she would never tell anybody, one time she caught him down in the kitchen late at night. She stood there, unseen in the shadows, and watched him shuffling around, warming some milk in a pan ... and crying. She'd never seen her dad cry before. And it broke her heart. Even now, when she thought about it, it made the back of her throat ache.

They never talked much about Mom's death. In fact, one of the reasons the family moved here from Missouri was to make a fresh start. But every once in a while, like when they heard the word cancer, you could see them get a little teary-eyed. That's why TJ didn't mind Dorie's nightly visits ... no matter how freezing cold her little feet were.

"You scared?" Dorie whispered.

"About what?" TJ asked.

"Starting a new school tomorrow."

"Nah," TJ lied.

"Me, too," Dorie said.

TJ pretended to yawn. "I met half the kids from school over at Chad's this afternoon. They already know what a klutz I am, so the hard part's over."

Dorie giggled. "You like him, don't you?"



"Good night, Squid."

"You do."

"Good night."

She snuggled closer, shoving those ice cube feet against TJ's legs. TJ was about to complain when Dorie's whole body stiffened. "What's that?" she asked.

TJ tried to ignore her. But as always, ignoring Dorie was impossible.

"Listen," she said. "Someone's whispering."

"It's just the ocean," TJ mumbled. "You'll get used to it."

"TJ?" Dorie squirmed around to face her. Her garlic- with-extra-onion breath told TJ she hadn't brushed her teeth since this afternoon's pizza.

Once again Dorie's hand was on TJ's face, feeling for her eyes. TJ saved her the trouble and opened them. Well, at least one of them. With the other she gave her world-famous annoyed big sister squint.

"Listen," Dorie said.

TJ squinted harder. But then she heard it too.

"Return to the pod," a voice whispered.

"I just wanna make sure she's safe, dude," a second voice answered.

TJ bolted up in bed.

"You simply wish to spy on her," the first voice said.

"Do not."

"Do too."

"Do not."

TJ turned to Dorie, whose eyes were as big as Frisbees. She reached for her glasses on the nightstand, slipped them on, and scanned the room, trying to see into the darkness. As the oldest, TJ had talked Dad into letting her have her own bedroom. Which was extremely cool ... well, except for the part about its being haunted!

TJ swallowed. "Who's ... ?" Her voice squeaked like a rusty hinge. She tried again. "Who's there?"

"Oh, man, now you torked it."

"How can she possibly hear us?"

Dorie scooted closer. TJ barely noticed her ice feet. It's hard noticing ice feet when you're shivering in frozen fear.

"She can't see us, can she?"

"How should I know?"

TJ took a shaky breath and shouted again. "Who's there?"

"Don't answer her."

"What type of fool do you think I am?"

"How many types are there?"

"Ho, ho, you're a real comedian, dude."

For ghosts, they didn't exactly sound like the scary type. TJ tried again. "Who's there?!"

No answer.


Repeat in the no-answer department.

TJ strained to hear even the slightest sound, the slightest breathing, the slightest anything. She stared at the unopened boxes in the middle of her room.


She tried one last time. Lowering her voice so she sounded in charge, she bellowed, "Is anyone there?!"

And then, ever so faintly, she heard the answer:



Excerpted from New Kid Catastrophes by Bill Myers Copyright © 2011 by Bill Myers. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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New Kid Catastrophes 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Jenny_Rose More than 1 year ago
TJ has moved from Missouri to Californiaand is trying to adjust. Unfortunately that is nearly impossible when everything that could go wrong does—like when two surfer dudes from the 23rd century show up to study her and try to help her. For entertainment value, it is a clean and funny story. Lots of crazy things happen. While this is Christian fiction it is only blatant in one short scene. But for literary value, it falls short. The overall premise and character arc are weak. It is a good idea poorly executed. If you’re looking for clean and funny for an 8-12 year old, it works. In fact, I just handed it to my 10 year old.
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great! I could relate to TJ as she adjusted to being the "new kid" and the treacherous waters of a new school. I thought the author did a great job of incorporating futuristic teenage slang throughout the book and had many creative futuristic devices. I also enjoyed the central theme of "beauty comes from within" and friends are friends through thick and thin. Overall, a great book for kids and adults to enjoy!
4Gazpacho More than 1 year ago
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.”
BeccaCarter More than 1 year ago
Fun, fun, fun! This book for kids and teens was really funny. I admit that at first I thought I was too grown-up for it, but before long, I got into the goofy humour in the writing. I enjoyed both the story and the way it was written. I’ll have to remember to find Book #2 when I need a fun quick read.
BookReviewerNicole More than 1 year ago
Overall I really liked this book. At first I didn't really think I'd be that interested since I'm 15 but it was a good book nonetheless. While I would not recommend it to a teen, I think the age range is right on with 8-12. The main goal of Bill Myers' book was to take someone else's bad experience and turn into a funny, confidence boosting book for starting middle school or moving to a new school. I give Bill Five stars in accomplishing that. TJ has just moved almost across the country and in very little time she has already made enemies with the most popular kid in school. Not a great way to start out, especially with two invisble surfer looking kids trailing her for a history project. Will TJ ever learn the real joy in friendship or will she be too caught up in being with the popular crowd? Find out in this great story filled with fun, adventure, and a whole lot of trouble! Great read for kids and a thumbs up for Bill Meyers!!
Louisa_May More than 1 year ago
I decided to check out the e-book version of this series for my kiddos before purchasing paperback versions... and I loved them! I was laughing out loud and totally impressed with the wittiness of the series (not something I've seen much in this age group). I'm not sure about the reviewer who thought this book wouldn't appeal to middle schoolers---I'm a widely-read 35 year old and I got some GREAT entertainment value out of this book! The main character is cute, has a crush like any other middle schooler, faces problems like other kids her age (and then some--I mean who hangs out with time travelers?!), and she's always thinking and saying hilarious and witty things that make me giggle. The boy characters in this book are a couple of silly nuts. I loved the book from the start and knew I had to purchase the entire paperback series for my kids. I really, really like that this book is so entertaining and I can't wait to read the rest of the series... not to mention give them to my kids!
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
New Kid Catastrophes is hilarious. I literally laughed out loud during the lunch table scene. Poor TJ! This book completely silly and wacky. But, oh so fun. 5 stars.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This is a ridiculous story about TJ Finkelstein who discovers some time travelers from the 23rd century, who in their quest to make her first day of school better, cause bizarre things to occur such as dictionaries flying off shelves, dudes turning into other people, and Chad becoming a goldfish. Unfortunately, this does not endear her to the other students so 9207 marbles end up in TJ’s locker. When TJ is handed a giant fire extinguisher, the pin is pulled, she shoots down the hall, bounces down steps, and has a bone-jarring ride. Children who love the absurd will adore this book as it teaches truth of what to look for in a friend. It is so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh.
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
TJ Findlestein is the new kid at her school. The night before she starts there she has some time travelers from the 23rd century come visit her and “help” her. But, their help makes her the outcast of the entire school. They are trying to show her to look beyond outward appearances – that the best friends might not be the most popular kids and to instead look at inner qualities. Very funny book for tweens. I don’t think a first day could be worse than this so it is encouraging for a tween beginning at a new school.
thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for some light summer reading for your younger children, look no more. Bill Myers has a way of crafting goofy characters and wacky scenarios that have made him one of the most popular authors of this generation, regardless of his target audience. However, I found "New Kid Catastrophes" a bit too goofy for my taste. All of the 'whoosh' and 'crack Snapple pop' special print effects were distracting for me, and some of the new slang was over the top. Still , I found Tuna (yup, that's a character, not a sandwich) and Herby are funny, and TJ is endearing in a Lucille Ball in junior high school kind of way. And you always find good, solid values in Bill Myers fiction. This is a six book series, so you'll find plenty to entertain and inspire your younger ones. Just don't recommend for teens, maybe pre-teens...
rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Excellent Start to the Series! TJ has just moved to California and is trying to get adjusted to her surroundings and new school which is easier said then done. Two time travelers have arrived and won't leave her alone.  They are trying to help her learn to look past people's outward appearance but their help isn't always appreciated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was so fun to read this book on my new glowlight nook in an airplane i gave it full stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book series for kiddos! Love this author. Quote from my kiddo. "I think he has a unique writing style and the books are funny!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!AL
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SophiesMindset More than 1 year ago
Sets tone for the series Not my favorite book (or series) - I love imagination, but its just a little over-the-top for my taste. I do appreciate the values the book (and series) highlight, but the book(s) (should be) for elementary aged kids - not middle schoolers. If this is what appeals to adolescents then we're worse off than I suspected. The book (and series) aren't bad, but they aren't fantastic either.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
An adorable, fun book.                 New Kid Catastrophes: 1 (TJ and the Time Stumblers) is adorable. This goof-troop of time-traveling kids kept me engaged and amused. Kids will easily relate to these silly, charming, magical characters (TJ, Tuna, and Herby) and the dilemmas they face (being the new kid/outsider.) I do have to say though—I feel this book should be geared toward grade school readers rather than teens.  Everything about this book is original. I, as an adult, enjoyed this first Time Stumblers tale and recommend it for young readers. A good, clean, fun, engaging read.
Virginia76 More than 1 year ago
TJ has just moved from Missouri to Malibu, California, where she has to make new friends. A pair of time travelers from the 23rd century arrive and follow her around, sometimes causing trouble for her. I thought this was a cute story that middle school children might enjoy. The story was rather wacky and the change in font got annoying, but overall, not bad.
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
I've been a bit torn about this book since finishing it. The book was funny but a little all over the place. I read that the author was also the writer for the Magee and Me video series ... the book reads a lot like one of those old videos. There was a decent amount of "cheese" factor, but I could look past a lot of it because the story was cute. My main "issue" is that I'm not really sure who the target audience for this series is. The main characters are in middle school and some of the issues (crushes on boys, dealing with the death of a parent, etc.) seemed geared more for middle schoolers. However, the book is really written in a style that seems more appropriate for younger elementary ages (1st-4th graders). I'm just not sure who will read this book and love it. Overall, a cute story. It would be worth giving it a shot with your kids if they enjoy funny, outlandish stories.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
The first book in the series TJ and the Time Stumblers, "New Kid Catastrophes" focuses on 13 year old TJ Finkelstein and her recent move to Malibu, California.  She moves in, starts a new school, and quickly (through mostly no fault of her own) makes an enemy of the most popular girl in school, Hester Breakahart.  She is being studied by two characters from the future (23rd century!), who have chosen her as a case-study for their history project.  Time 'stumblers' Tuna and Herby cause many of her troubles, however, they are also instrumental in TJ's growth to begin to look past the superficial surfaces and see what people are really like on the inside.  As she is ignored by most at her new school, but pursued by two "class nerds", Naomi Simpletwirp and Doug Claudlooper....will she pursue popularity? Or determine that character matters? I enjoyed the quirkiness of this book and think that the 8-12 year old set will enjoy it greatly!  I recommend it!
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining, lots of silliness. This is a really fun series with an unusual concept and likeable bumbling time travellers. I'm over-qualified for the stories for YA and kids but I enjoy them, so I read them anyway. This author writes extremely well and makes me laugh. This has creativity, action, and futuristic technology that malfunctions frequently. The main characters are mostly believable, with some exaggeration, which makes a point in an amusing way. I am planning to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received the TJ and the Time Stumblers series (6 books in all) for my classroom, and they quickly became hits with a lot of the kids. A Christian riff on Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the Time Stumblers series features Herby and Tuna, two silly guys from the 2200’s who travel back in time to the twenty-first century in order to get some first-hand data for their history project on TJ Finkelstein, a great world leader from their past. They end up stuck with a seventh-grade version of TJ in her own time, and while they work on finding their way home they help TJ learn many of the biblical virtues and life lessons that will make her a godly and revered leader one day. My female students love that the books feature a godly heroine who, though destined for greatness, struggles with the same hardships, homework, and heartbreaks as them; and the boys get a kick out of Herby and Tuna’s antics. New Kid Catastrophes: Though TJ is destined to become a great world leader, she is still relatively unpopular at her middle school. This reality is made more real to her when she inadvertently makes an enemy of the teen celebrity who attends her school, Hesper Breakaheart. Plenty of hijinks ensue when Tuna and Herby try to help, and TJ ultimately learns that conduct and character are more important than appearance and popularity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago