A short girl with low self-confidence gets talked into being a Munchkin in a community semi-professional theatre production of *The Wizard of Oz*. But it’s better than that. Julia Marks Her elderly dog died recently and she has been mourning. She’s not gifted in school and has no direction. But her singing younger brother wants to try out for the musical and her mother talks her into trying out, too. Of course she is cast as a Munchkin which just sounds humiliating to her – until she finds a mentor – Olive – who is an adult true dwarf with acting experience.
Part of the treat is watching Julia paying real attention to adults for the first time and starting to understand what she might become as she changes into something beyond a child. The other treat is the magic of the theatre, with all of the dramatic ups and downs, on-stage and off, portrayed by a writer who has obviously been a part of it. *Short* is lots of fun, with good insights into theatre and into life – which is really a lot like theatre anyway.
I have heard nothing by praise for Holly Goldberg Solan’s Counting by 7s, and it’s a book I’ve been meaning to get to (and will, I hope!). Short is her latest effort, and it’s a pretty endearing little story of life, death, and friendship. In fact, I love the dual meaning of the title given that this book refers to life being “too short” and that Julia is in fact “short.”
Julia’s narrative is absolutely infectious. She’s curious, endearing, kind and understanding. Julia wants to know anything and everything, and it’s so apparent in the story to the reader that she is nothing if not filled with good intentions. There’s a lot of beauty in the way in which she understands the world around her. Julia’s loss of her beloved dog, Ramon, causes her to feel so much sadness, but in her sadness you see a beautiful young woman developing understanding, especially when it comes to Olive, another Munchkin in the production of Wizard of Oz who has dwarfism. Their interactions in the story were easily the bits of the novel that stole the spotlight.
Actually, Julia’s interactions with other characters just felt very genuine and spot on. I loved reading her relationship with Mrs. Chang, especially towards the end of the novel when Julia realizes that they share something in common. I also loved the way Goldberg Sloan integrated The Wizard of Oz into the story, adding such a larger, more important message about life being what you make of it, but you can’t turn back — you can only go forward. This is a huge lesson for Julia throughout the story, and how this gets tied into Oz is really special.
This book is adorable, and oh so cute. It will make you laugh, smile, cry, and it’s simply full of feeling. The book understands how children feel when dealing with loss, and I feel like Julia’s portrayal is very realistic. While I didn’t always enjoy being trapped in Julia’s head, I always appreciated her sentiments towards others. Short is one of the sweetest little middle grade reads that has a huge heart.
A charming novel about being in a quality theatre production. You feel you are a part of the ensemble, getting to know the characters and enjoying the humor of the lessons they learn. Recommended for upper elementary kids interested in acting.
Rose in PR
For what this novel lacks in action, it makes up for in the characters and wit of the writing. The novel intricately follows Julia's inner monologue as she is thrown into a semi-professional production of the Wizard of Oz. Although the plot is rather subdued, Julia is witty, funny, introspective, and very self-aware. This is an enjoyable read from start to finish.
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