Julia is not interested in trying out for The Wizard of Oz, the university theater’s summer production. As the girl who is always in the front row in class pictures, still needs a stool to get stuff out of the kitchen cupboards, and is small enough to get through the dog door when her family gets locked out of the house (again), she is not feeling too positive about being a Munchkin. She also is not musical, even though her little brother Randy has a voice like honey, nor is she really a dancer. Julia isn’t really sure who she is or what she is interested in doing. Mostly, she is interested in remembering Ramon, her dog who died 7 weeks ago, not in getting her mind off things by being theatrically short.
The thing about being a kid, though, is that your parents can make do stuff, like audition for The Wizard of Oz, so they can make sure both you and your little brother are in the same place at the same time while they’re at work. So when both Julia and Randy are cast as Munchkins, it looks like Julia’s summer is going to be a long one.
But things don’t always turn out like you think they will. The director of the play, Shawn Barr, is awesome, even after he breaks his tailbone falling off a ladder during a particularly enthusiastic part of rehearsal. Julia meets Olive, a super cool adult (and fellow Munchkin) who is exactly the same height as her, and who she wants to be exactly like when she grows up. And she becomes friends with Mrs. Chang, the quiet older lady who lives down the street and has many, many surprises, including the ability to create amazing Munchkin shoes and winged monkey suits. As Opening Night gets closer, Julia begins to realize that she might just be better at some things than she ever would have thought – things like friendship.
Short is definitely my favorite middle grade read of 2017 so far! Julia’s voice is so real, funny, and insightful (she’s not sure if her older brother Tim is at ‘the difficult age’ because it’s difficult for him, or difficult for the because they have to live with him) you’ll be surprised when you remember she’s not a real person. If you loved Counting by 7s as much as I did, make sure you grab author Holly Goldberg Sloan’s next heartwarming novel, kick off your ruby slippers, and settle in for a good read all the way to the Emerald City!