Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Short. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. Read by Tara Sands. 296 pages/6 hours and 33 minutes. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-399-18621-9 ; TR $7.69, ISBN 978-0-399-18622-6
TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction / Theatre
Part of a series? No
Julia Marks is having a rough start to her summer. Her dog/best friend Ramon has just passed away, and she finds herself looking for him all the time. She’s feeling misunderstood; with Ramon, she never had to talk about why she never says the word “short” or how it feels to be the one in the family small enough to sneak in the dog door when someone forgets their keys. This summer, she’s supposed to look after her little brother Randy, and perhaps as a way to keep both kids occupied, Mrs. Marks has Julia try out for the summer production of The Wizard of Oz with Randy. To Julia’s huge surprise, she does well enough to get cast. As a munchkin, she gets to work with Olive, a little person and adult cast member. Julia does well enough that she becomes the dance captain for the munchkins, plus she gets an added role as a Winged Monkey. Her neighbor Mrs. Chang is so excited to hear about Julia’s summer project that she starts making munchkin costumes for Julia. When Sean Barr, the director of the show, sees Julia’s munchkin gear, Mrs. Chang finds herself a role in the show. As summer progresses, Julia begins to wonder if her height really does define her — and whether that is a good or a bad thing.
Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:
This book had me crying within the first five minutes … basically, as soon as she mentioned Ramon, I was a goner. Actually, nearly every time she really talks about Ramon, I end up crying. But that’s just me! The book itself was wonderful. Julia’s first foray into the world of acting is really sweet, interesting, and plausible. It feels like readers are backstage with her as she learns what wings are, what it means to hit your mark, and more.
Grade Level: 3-6
Awards and Starred Reviews:
Booklist starred, 10/15/16
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred, 12/01/16
Better Nate than Never (according to Those About to Mock)
I’m curious to see if How to Stage a Catastrophe is a readalike.