Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 / 5 stars)
Julia has always been short. She has always blended in, unnoticed in her family and friends. But, with her friends gone for the summer, and the weight of her recently departed dog in her heart, her mother encourages her to try out for the local Wizard of Oz production. At first she is reluctant to participate, but soon she uncovers the magic behind show business – and her own talent – with the help of Olive and Mrs. Chang. Could this summer be the year she finally grows?
I’ll be honest, I picked up this book at a thrift store a few months ago for two reasons: 1) I love the Wizard of Oz and 2) I’m short as well. A warmhearted middle grade novel, it carries a very important message: no matter your size, you can do great things. The author does a fantastic job capturing the essence of a child. I could hear a little girl talking about these events, fixating on specific details, and riding emotions of confidence and fear.
Yet, while the story has a fantastic voice, Julia’s voice is also it’s downfall. Because she doesn’t see everything, we only get partial understanding of what is happening…which makes sense, as this is a middle grade novel. Yet, this also left room for holes in the story. The biggest one for me was right at the end, and I reread the last few pages a couple times to make sure I didn’t miss anything…but why didn’t Julia ever say goodbye to Olive? Why does she spend those last pages only talking about the director and Mrs. Chang when Oliver is her mentor? Did I miss something? It’s possible.
Overall though, Short is a heartwarming story about growing up, finding yourself, and reaching outside your comfort zone. This is the sort of story I needed when I was eleven or twelve, struggling with my own height and confidence. Ultimately, I think a lot of children will benefit from it as long as they remember…it’s inside that counts!
What’s it about?
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive–one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins–and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background–and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!
Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery and of the role models who forever change us