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'Shorty Bean': Local author develops new fantasy for children

Holly Szurpicki holds a copy of "Shorty Bean and The Enchanted Coins - Seek and Ye Shall Find." Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Holly Szurpicki has found a magical path for her character, Shorty Bean, to follow in the author's new multimedia series.

"Shorty Bean and The Enchanted Coins - Seek and Ye Shall Find" is the first of the series illustrated by Manneristic Studios, which will also collaborate with the author to produce the Shorty Bean video.

Szurpicki will hold a book signing from 1-2:30 p.m. and a reading from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at Gallery North. From 4-4:30 p.m., she will preview the video production.

Shorty Bean is a 7-year-old girl from a city like Minneapolis. She and her hamster-dog pet, Smarty, are staying with her grandparents "Up North" while her mother takes care of an sick relative.

One night, Shorty Bean follows a path illuminated by jars of fireflies to a treasure - a special locket and a case to hold mystical coins. This discovery begins Shorty Bean's quest.

"It has a lot of Christian symbolism in it," Szurpicki said. "One of my actual goals was to create something that isn't dark."

In her introduction, Szurpicki writes: "This story is about a New World seen thru the eyes of a little girl. A story of perseverance, family values and divine destiny."

The author said she believes children are exposed to too much fantasy that involves fearful elements such as vampires, witchcraft and evil sorcery.

"It has an element of opposition, but it's not overpowering the whole story," she said.

Szurpicki said she began outlining Shorty Bean stories in 2000, but was interrupted by family demands.

"I started out with a story - I actually saw it in my mind," she said. "My characters were alive."

Szurpicki said she has composed songs for the animated video and plans to include video games based on Shorty Bean at The book costs $19.95 and is available at the website.