On My Bookshelf: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

March 02, 2020

In Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julia is surprised to find herself enjoying her involvement in the summer production of The Wizard of Oz and in the new friendships she makes with some of the other performers, the director, and her elderly neighbor. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
The basic plot from Amazon: 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.

In Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julia is surprised to find herself enjoying her involvement in the summer production of The Wizard of Oz and in the new friendships she makes with some of the other performers, the director, and her elderly neighbor. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
Why I liked it: Short is by the Holly Goldberg Sloan, who also wrote Counting by 7s, which I enjoyed more than this book. In all fairness, I did listen to this on audiobook and some of my annoyance with the narrator (and as a result my mild distaste for the book) could be due to the voice of the audiobook’s narrator. This is not the first time I’ve had this suspicion, but I think it is interesting to think about how hearing a character’s voice can impact our overall enjoyment of a book.

The plot centers around performing in a summer musical, which I could personally relate to. My school district ran a similar summer program from grades 4-12 and I have wonderful memories of participating and I completely understood Julia’s awe of the older performers involved. While the shows I was a part of did not include any professionals, many of the high school students involved in my performances were extremely talented and many did go on to become professionals.

Similar to Counting by 7s, Julia makes several friendships with characters across generations. I liked how shocked she was to learn the age of some of the elderly characters in the book, like her neighbor Mrs. Chang and the show’s director Sean Barr, because they didn’t seem that “old” to her.

Classroom application: This is definitely a book for middle grade students as I think students older than 8th grade would share my annoyance at Julia’s naïveté. Animal lovers will particularly like this book as Julia spends much of the book saddened by the recent loss of her beloved dog.

After reading, students could research other famous short people or the medical issues related to delayed growth. Students could also participate in a service learning project with a senior citizen group or nursing home.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Short for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

In Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julia is surprised to find herself enjoying her involvement in the summer production of The Wizard of Oz and in the new friendships she makes with some of the other performers, the director, and her elderly neighbor. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.

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