King of the Mole People
King of the Mole People
I looked back and saw Ed heading my way. He must have spotted me. I was trapped! I looked across the field to the goalposts. I've been hung by my underwear from fence posts and other lower-to-the-ground locations, but goalposts were a whole other level I couldn't bear to contemplate.
Then I saw something that wasn't there a minute ago: a tunnel, freshly dug, heading down under the fence that ran along the length of Cross Creek.
Why do I always have mud on me? This kind of thing right here was part of the reason. Because the truth is, when there are mysterious forces working on your behalf, sometimes you have no choice but to go along with it. Especially when there's a couple of Neanderthal jocks getting ready to turn you and your knickers into a waving flag.
I took the tunnel.
Doug Underbelly has a hard time fitting in at school. He tries to be a normal kid, but it’s hard when he lives in a creepy old house that has a cemetery for a yard, his dad keeps making him lunches involving eel, and the only person at school who wants to be his friend is Magda, herself a social misfit. To top it off, Doug has recently been selected as the new king of the Mole People, a race of subterranean people whose realm Doug enters via an empty grave in his yard that is impossible to fill. The Mole Kingdom is in desperate need of help, and Doug, who is a very reluctant king, had been doing his best to ignore them and their problems. When Doug’s schoolmates start falling down holes that appear suddenly around the school and giant worms start erupting from the ground, Doug realizes he has no choice but to step up to his royal duties and help the Mole Kingdom. Enlisting the help of Magda and his loyal Mole Kingdom royal guards, he saves the Mole Kingdom from destruction.
Paul Gilligan is probably best known for his comic strip Pooch Café. In keeping with his experience writing humor, Gilligan’s King of the Mole People is a light and funny read that is peppered with illustrations that add to the story. While the subject matter of the novel is fantastical, Doug encounters many challenges faced by middle grade students, particularly a desire to fit in with his peers. The use of first-person narration and illustrations drawn by the narrator makes King of the Mole People reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. King of the Mole People would be enjoyed by any fan of humorous middle school novels and certainly by fans of the “Wimpy Kid” series.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.