Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781743816516
(Age: 10+) The title and blurb will possibly lead you to believe that Julia's height is of major significance, that we will be reading a story about the difficulties of bullies and discrimination similar to the emotional impact and profoundness of R.J Palacio's Wonder. You will not. What you will find is a charming story narrated by a young girl with a big message to share with us.
Julia Marks has always been small for her age. She is used to being chosen last for sports teams and is so conscious of her smallness that she has banned the 's' word from her vocabulary because it gives her a negative feeling. But the world and its possibilities, 'no matter one's stature', open up for her when her mother makes her audition for a community production of 'The Wizard of Oz'.
I felt a connection to every character in this story as Holly Goldberg Sloan has skilfully developed each with careful attention to detail as seen through the eyes of Julia.
Julia Marks is the main character and she exudes raw innocence and self-centredness with meandering, yet shrewd, thought provoking observations and a quirky sense of humour on loss, family and romance.
Julia's little brother Randy doesn't seem to be affected by constantly being overlooked and pushed into the background, not just by his sister but by other adults. A comparison of Julia's and Randy's interactions with adults would make for an excellent discussion topic for students.
Other characters that left vivid impressions include Ramon, Julia's dog, a loyal and constant companion who sadly 'passed on' early in the story setting the theme for Julia's sense of emptiness; Mrs. Chang, the neighbour with hidden talents; Shawn Barr, the delightfully quirky and patient director; and Olive, the supportive 'little' adult actor.
If you enjoy the sweet writing and the innocence of Glenda Millard's Kingdom of Silk you will enjoy Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan, a light and entertaining story on growing up.
(Children's and Youth Services Librarian Riverina Regional Library)