This new offering from the author of Counting by 7s is considerably lighter, funnier fare.
Recommended grade level: 4-7
Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9780399186219)
Summary: 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. (Source)
Who will like this book?: Short is charming, funny, and has a lot of heart. Readers with high emotional intelligence and empathy will be engrossed in Julia’s story.
Who won’t like this book?: There is some drama and action, but it’s a fairly subtle book on the whole. Julia’s experience is one any kid her age might have. Those looking for flashy stories may be disappointed.
Other comments: This book is unusual in that it focuses a lot on the adults in the story (through Julia’s eyes, meaning it is still relatable to kids). Julia and her brother Randy are the only major child characters, and even Randy isn’t in it much. Julia develops a close relationship with the adult actor Olive, and plus with her neighbor Mrs. Chang and the director Shawn Barr (for whom Julia develops a strong admiration). Much of the story’s conflict actually takes place among the adults, with Julia as more of an observer. I made “little people” a tag in the hope that there will be more books to apply it to soon!
Readalikes: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle shares Short‘s character-centric humor and love of theatre. Replay by Sharon Creech is another book about theate and kids’ relationships with adults. This book talks a lot about The Wizard of Oz, and may spark interest in reading L. Frank Baum’s original novel.
Photo credit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30201160-short