Holly Goldberg Sloan, 1958-

Book - 2017

"Very short for her age, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a munchkin in a summer regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz"--

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New York, NY : Dial Books for Young Readers [2017]
Physical Description
296 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Holly Goldberg Sloan, 1958- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In this sweet and uplifting story, quirky middle-schooler Julia grows up in unexpected ways after winning the roles of a Munchkin and a winged monkey in a summer production of The Wizard of Oz. She can't dance or sing, but she's ideally suited for the roles because she's very short. Julia hopes being in the play will help take her mind off the recent death of her beloved dog, Ramon. She's not the best student, isn't a good listener, and tends to daydream, but she's wryly observant, especially of the adults around her, who often act more out of control than the kids. She finds friendship and great role models in an elderly neighbor and in a number of people involved with the show: her director, a talented costume designer, and Olive, a woman with dwarfism who plays a fellow Munchkin. Julia's tendency for self-analysis and her unique view of things is often very funny, as in the way she compares blue cheese to the tops of her grandmother's legs when she's in her swimsuit. It's refreshing that Julia doesn't mind being short and believes she's "little, but big inside." Her self-acceptance is inspiring, and the joy she experiences in her foray into theater is irresistible. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Julia Marks, 11, is short for her age, doesn't dance, can't carry a tune like her brother Randy, and definitely doesn't want to spend her summer acting in community theater. All of that changes when she and Randy are cast as Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. The play forces Julia to challenge her perceptions of herself: being a dreamer isn't necessarily a bad thing, and being short doesn't mean one can't do great things. It also allows her to engage with people she wouldn't have otherwise met, like elderly neighbor Mrs. Chang (who turns out to be both a skilled seamstress and an agile Winged Monkey); Olive, one of three adult Munchkins; and Shawn Barr, the play's charismatic director. Sloan (Counting by 7s) again captures the authentic voice of a child dealing with weighty topics, including loss and identity, in a charming and often funny way. Julia's natural naïveté (such as not knowing that L. Frank Baum is not "El Frank Bomb") and inability to self-censor make for a narrative filled with lighthearted and candid moments. Ages 8–12. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–8—Middle schooler Julia Marks reluctantly lands a part as a munchkin in a summer stock production of The Wizard of Oz. Tentative at first about her performing abilities, she's helped along by a group of adults who see what she has not yet realized about herself: she makes a big impression for such a small person. Julia is indeed very small; the title of the book describes the protagonist, who is several inches shorter than her classmates and has been uncomfortable about her height since she overheard her parents discussing it negatively. Julia's rambling first-person narration is very funny as she resists every new opportunity (lead munchkin dancer; second string winged monkey) and then decides she loves it once she tries it. Julia finds mentors in the well-drawn characters who make up the theater group, especially the charismatic director, who works lying down after he breaks his tailbone, and a septuagenarian costume designer and former prima ballerina. She changes her perspective on her own size when she befriends Olive, an actress with dwarfism who wows the protagonist with her singing and dancing chops, her fashion sense, and her confidence as she dresses down the director for his bias against an aspiring cast member. Brief chapters and an accessible writing style add to the novel's appeal. VERDICT Theater kids and fans of Tim Federle's "Nate" books will love this.—Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School Library, VT. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Very short for her age, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a munchkin in a summer regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A girl who is rather petite for her age is cast as a Munchkin in a regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz before she bonds with a director who admires her can-do attitude, an adult with dwarfism who does not let size define her and an artistic neighbor who encourages her resolve to stand out. By the author of Counting by 7s. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this heartwarming and funny middle-grade novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz  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.