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Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Short
January 31st 2017 by Dial Books
Copy received from the publisher
Julia doesn't really want to do much over the summer but watch her younger brother, Randy, and mourn the death of her dog, Ramon. Her mother has other plans, and signs both her and Randay up to participate in a local production of The Wizard of Oz. Since both of her best friends are out of town, and the cast and crew of the production are fairly amusing, Julia resigns herself to spending her summer either practicing or performing as a Munchkin. Yes, Julia is on the short side, but not as short as the adult actors who have been hired. One of the women, Olive, intrigues Julia, and the two get along very well. Julia also makes the acquaintance of Mrs. Chang, a neighbor who was a prima ballerina and worked in costuming for a bit. Mrs. Chang surprises Julia with the quality of her creations, and introduces her neighbor to the director, Shawn Barr, who hires her to make costumes and also be a flying monkey along with Olive and Julia. The play goes fairly well, despite some mishaps, and Julia does her best even though she lacks confidence in her own abilities and is still working through her reaction to Ramon's death.
Strengths: This was an oddly appealing book, mainly because the dog's death (While horrible, I admit. Losing a dog is more like losing part of oneself, and very difficult for a child.) was about the worst thing that happened. Both parents were alive, siblings were not in trouble, and there were even a few grandparents kicking around. The supporting characters like Olive and Mrs. Chang were superb and realistically portrayed. The intricacies of the play were informative and yet interesting, and would definitely appeal to budding thespians. The best part was that this was much more upbeat than Counting by 7's, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Weaknesses: Books about theater productions are a hard sell for my library, but apparently not for others. I was a bit disappointed by one bit. (Spoiler alert (highlight to read): Julia is just slow in growing and not actually destined to be exceptionally short; an x-ray at the orthodontist helps predict that she will grow up to be 5'4". I'm 5'2". This ruins the whole title for me!) The mourning for the dog went on a bit too long, and I didn't find Julia to be overly likable or amusing, as many reviewers did.
What I Really Think: Will probably purchase, since this was humorous and generally upbeat.