AUTHOR: Holly Goldberg Sloan
SUMMARY: Always considered short for her age, Julia is used to being picked last for sports teams in school, even by her closest friends, and is self-conscious enough of her height that she never uses the dreaded S-word. Her outlook changes, however, when her mother forces her to audition for the local university’s summer-theater production of The Wizard of Oz, in which she is cast as the lead Munchkin dancer. Chance friendships with her neighbor Mrs. Chang, a costuming genius, and Olive, an adult cast mate who is her exact size, help transform Julia’s summer from one of grudging obligation into an inspirational experience that enables her to put her own insecurities into perspective. Sloan combines Julia’s interior monologue with events in real time to create a winning portrait of an inquisitive white adolescent girl whose shrewd observations of family members and cast mates reveal a keen mind and a delightfully quirky sense of humor. Her musings about the play also serve as a well-crafted introduction to theater terminology and convey drama’s ability to open participants up to new experiences.