Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Being a five foot tall children's librarian, I was naturally drawn to this book. I also have a love for theatre, comedy, and drama so this book was right up my alley! Here is my review of the book. A shortened version of this review was also posted on the library's instagram and FB page. 

In this middle grade novel, 11 year old Julia is prepared to spend her summer sulking around the house, grieving over the loss of her beloved family dog, Ramon. Julia's closest friend's have gone away for the summer too and with her dog being gone, she is left feeling incredibly lonely. She also overhears her parents having a conversation about how short she is, a trait she wasn't too concerned about until now. Self conscious as ever, her summer takes an unexpected turn when her and her little brother Randy are made to audition for a semi-professional theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. 

Julia has never been in the limelight before and is quite reluctant and unhappy to partake in this theater production. She's also convinced her mother is only making them do it because it's basically free babysitting. However, despite her low self-esteem, Julia soon finds herself beginning to enjoy the theatre life and the quirky characters of the production team. When her lonely neighbor, Mrs. Chang, hears of her participation in the Wizard of Oz, she surprises Julia with a custom designed pair of Munchkin shoes that are exquisitely beautiful. When Julia shows up for the next day's practice in the most incredible shoes for the role, Sean Barr, the show's theatre director, praises her for showing initiative and surprisingly casts her as the lead Munchkin in the show. 

As the story continues, Julia begins to make friends with a wide array of interesting characters, including Olive, an adult with dwarfism, and Mrs. Chang, her eccentric 76-year-old neighbor, who proves to be an “insanely talented” costume designer. Throughout the story, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows and her participation in Wizard of Oz enables her to put her own insecurities into perspective.  This story also shows us the importance of having mentors — people outside the family unit. Short is a charming read with an important message that no matter one’s stature, “the way we move tells the world who we are." Recommended for grades 4-8. 

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