Sunday, March 12, 2017

Holly Goldberg Sloan's Short

Reading Short by the pool

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I have been waiting years for Holly Goldberg Sloan to write another middle grade novel.  The last one, Counting by 7s, was a huge hit with my fifth graders at the time.  That was over three years ago. I still remember that Skype.  It was dead of the winter here (Newbery project time) and beautiful in Holly's Southern California.  We could see sun, blue sky and her bright smile.  She told the kids that they could be making a movie out of Counting by 7s and we pinky promised that we'd all go see it together.

January 16, 2014
OMG! I probably shouldn't admit this but I just wore that sweater yesterday!

Now she has a new book out, Short, that will have you singing tunes from The Wizard of Oz way after you turn the last page.  Pre-fans of Tim Federle, here you go!

It's summer vacation and Julia, who is short for her age, got cast as a Munchkin in the local university's summer theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, only after her Mom insist that she audition. 

"One thing I decided is that life is one big, long struggle to find applause."
Wow.  Ain't that the truth!

Shawn Barr, the visiting eccentric director, takes a liking to Julia, or "Baby" as he lovingly refers to her. Julia's young innocence (we never actually find out her age) and sweetness comes out often.  For instance, the time she visited Shawn Barr's motel room and saw his piles of books.  "I'm glad Shawn Barr is a reader, because Grandma Mittens says that you can tell an interesting person by their covers. And she doesn't mean blankets." Or the time Julia went to cheer up her neighbor, Mrs. Chang, and whispered, "Life is a cabaret...It works, because she smiles. I'm guessing a cabaret is a kind of wine. I hope she'll have a tall glass."

When Julia gets harnessed in to try out to be a flying monkey, she's a natural.  "Baby was born to fly," Shawn Barr says.

"I'm learning a big lesson right now, which is that the same thing 
can be rotten one day and then amazing the next."

After weeks of rehearsals, Julia has grown up and learned many life lessons in one summer so much so that she says on the way over to the performance (and it's at this point my tears started flowing), "Thanks, Mom. Thanks for making me try out for this play." 

I will probably always remember where I finished, Short. I was at the beauty shop waiting for my "old-enough-to-know-better" year old grandmother to get her hair done.  I don't think they had ever seen anything like this before--a grown woman with snot and tears running down her cheeks.  But I just couldn't help it.  Julia and her cast just touched a nerve, a good one, but touching nonetheless. When that closing curtain came down, I'm glad the final applause was loud so no one could hear my sniffling and nose blowing.  The piece de resistance?  My grandmother's hairdresser, Louis, is Shawn Barr's twin.

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