by Leo Franz, Illustrated by Sophie Franz

Xlibris, $19.99, 218 pages

Mimi and the Magic Pea is a story about the magic and imagination of being a child. Mimi is not your typical 12 year old girl – in fact she is pretty unique. She plays a mean game of baseball and runs like the wind. Her best friends are a rag-tag group of kids and her dog, Ziggy. They have a make-shift club house in the laurel bushes right below the witch’s house, and they are fighting a war with a gang of thugs threatening to take over their NE Portland neighborhood. All of this is happening as the witch watches from her vantage point.

It is a familiar tale of good versus evil, and in fact references a classic story by C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But at times it resonates more like Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. I kept waiting for the Cheshire cat to appear or the white rabbit to run across Mimi’s path as she runs through the laurel bushes to her fort. At other times it feels more like a Grimm Fairy Tale with its darker side waiting in the bushes to pounce. Yet, it is the imagery that the author brings to life; the back alleys of NE Portland, the crack of the baseball bats, the smell of rotten eggs and the clanging printing press in the basement of the community art center that reminds me of the bedtime stories of my own youth. Then, add the illustrations that bring both the characters and the story to life and you have the making of cherished childhood novel. It is a tale that will certainly captivate the imagination of the young reader and will be churning in their dreams as they drift off to sleep.

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