A Funny Coming-of-Age Book
Julia Marks is an eleven-year-old girl starting her summer vacation without Ramon, the family dog who died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack. Julia’s two best friends, Kaylee and Piper, both have plans that will take them out of town for the summer, and Julia has decided that her own plans will include figuring out how to be okay with her small stature (she refuses to use the word “short”) and how to be happy without Ramon. She’s also responsible for her younger brother, Randy, and when Mrs. Marks decides that both Julia and Randy will audition for the local university’s summer production of The Wizard of Oz. Julia is reluctant, but she’s also obedient and she goes to the audition—and that’s where she finds a second home.
The Wizard of Oz is a semi-professional effort that blends the talents of local kids, university students, and professional actors, and Julia is cast as both a munchkin and a winged monkey. She bonds with her fellow actors and finds a friend in Olive—an adult with dwarfism who is the same size as Julia and someone Julia decides will be a great role model.
Julia’s theater experience is typical of that of a lot of kids who get involved in productions—it’s life-changing and it teaches her a lot more than a script and some songs. She learns how to observe others and notice little things happening around her, and she learns a whole lot about herself. Julia’s voice is fantastic. She’s hilarious and authentic—and definitely precocious. Although she’s more introspective and self aware than most eleven-year-olds, that makes the book all the more enjoyable.
It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of SHORT, but once I did, I couldn’t put the book down. Julia Marks is a great character, and her observations help bring the secondary characters to life.
SHORT is a book that would be fun to share in a classroom setting. I’m curious to hear what kids in the book’s target audience have to say about it, and I really want to know what they think of Julia. Any kid who has been involved in theater will identify with Julia’s emotions surrounding the show, and adult readers in particular will enjoy the book’s humor
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
An introduction to the fun of involvement in theater