Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets
by K.J. Blocker
Mindstir Media

"And that would mean that Withers was both crooked and intelligent, a terrible combination. It was easier when criminals were stupid."

If one were categorizing, Blocker’s book would probably fall into what’s often known as middle grade fiction—fiction that’s best read and enjoyed by children somewhere in the age range of 8 to 12. That certainly doesn’t mean that younger kids wouldn’t enjoy it as well, particularly if the book is read to or with them. In fact, time being spent between parents and children is at the heart of this fantasy adventure, which is grounded in real world scenarios.

This is the story of a family that focuses on Tom, the father, Jimmy, his nine-year-old son, and Pappy, Tom’s father and Jimmy’s grandfather. Certainly other characters are involved. There’s Marry Anne, Jimmy’s mother, who seems to be the most levelheaded family member. There’s Withers, a malevolent bank president and Young LIn, his unctuous assistant forced to office in Wither’s closet. A friendly crop dusting pilot is on hand, as is a somewhat addled mine manager, a friendly but gossipy diner owner, a talking bug, and a whole passel of magical mine moppets that do indeed stretch the mind and boggle the imagination.

The plot is rooted in realistic situations with touches of surrealism to spice things up. Tom is a farmer who has managed to grow a hybridized form of corn that has the potential to make his family wealthy and literally help feed people around the world. Unfortunately, he’s sunk all his money into the business and payment is coming due on his bank loan. The evil Withers is looking forward to foreclosing on Tom’s farm and taking it over himself. Tom’s problems overwhelm him so that he neglects spending time with Jimmy. Then, as you might guess, things get even worse. Some strange phenomenon starts destroying Tom’s crop. Tom’s estranged dad, Pappy, shows up with problems of his own. Withers is about to foreclose as well on his long problematic salt mine. As the troubles start to pile up exponentially, it’s up to Jimmy, his friend the talking bug, and the wild and wacky magical mine moppets to save the day—but not before a kidnapping and daring rescue add a whole new level of action and suspense.

Blocker writes this tale with an eye on both older and younger audiences. He uses prose that’s straightforward enough to make it easy for young minds to follow. Yet he frequently drops in bits of humor that older kids and adults would appreciate as well. His dialogue doesn’t seem at all forced or out of character coming from the mouths of people, bugs, or moppets. The magical mine creatures will no doubt fascinate children. Older readers may well be reminded of the Munchkins from The Wizard Of Oz. Plus Jimmy’s bug pal may well have parents reliving their own moments with Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket.

Morals are abound in Blocker’s book. The virtues of honesty, loyalty, friendship, and belief in one another take center stage with the all-encompassing value of love. His is a story meant to teach as well as entertain. The book is also flamboyantly and charmingly illustrated by Ron Oden, with a style of graphics that will make kids want to thumb back through the pages even after the story has ended. For both the young and the young at heart, Treasure Of The Magical Mine Moppets is a fun and family-friendly adventure.

RECOMENDED by the US Review

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