A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Short is a charming, exuberant story about a young girl discovering her potential for greatness. Author Holly Goldberg Sloan (Counting by 7s) revisits the theme of grief but with a light touch -- her heroine is trying to find happiness after the death of her dog. The narrator is authentic, with endearing enthusiasm and a realistic touch of occasional sourness. The adults around her form a warm network of support, helping to change the way she views herself. An adult character smokes, and a child has a sip of champagne at a celebration. One character briefly mentions the death of a grown child, and there are hints of mature adult relationships.
What's the story?
Julia's grandma tells her she may be SHORT, but she's tough like a terrier, yet Julia isn’t so sure. Facing a summer without her friends and grieving her beloved dog, Julia reluctantly tries out for a part in The Wizard of Oz even though she knows she isn't the talented one in the family. To her surprise, she's cast as a Munchkin. The play opens up a new world for Julia, who finds herself constantly challenged -- and loving it. She discovers a talented and generous neighbor with a fascinating background, befriends a woman who's as small as she is, and grows to revere the play's director. Every day brings a new lesson, and by summer's end, Julia feels she's learned to fly.
Is it any good?
Sweet, smart, and laugh-out-loud funny, this delightful novel by Holly Goldberg Sloan is a wonderful read, bubbling with discovery and excitement and embracing the bittersweet in life. Short is a sure delight for theater kids, but it will also resonate with readers who aren't yet sure what their "thing" is or if they even have a thing.
Julia's stream-of-consciousness narration sidetracks into musings on curious idioms, gentle self-chiding for her less charitable thoughts, and precociously somber reminders of the lessons she's learning in her summer theater experience. She's naive enough to not always understand exactly why the adults around her behave the way they do, particularly when it comes to romantic entanglements, but she has the maturity to understand how they're feeling. The strong, caring adult characters are just as appealing as young Julia, whose joyful spirit carries the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Julia shifts from apprehension and self-doubt to exhilaration when she tries new things in Short. Do you get nervous trying new things? When have you been surprised to discover you liked something you thought you'd hate?
How is Julia's story similar to Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz? What lessons do both girls learn?
Julia puzzles over idioms. What idioms are you curious about? How can you find out what they mean or how they came into being?
- Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: January 31, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.