Holly Goldberg Sloan is skilled at creating sympathetic and utterly charming young characters, and in Short she succeeds once again.
Julia Marks, a
short not tall middle schooler who isn’t over the death of her dog, and can’t sing or dance too well is forced to audition for a local university’s production of The Wizard of Oz at her mother’s behest. There, she discovers other special talents within herself when she gets cast as a Munchkin. Sloan expertly depicts Julia’s rich inner life as she shows the young girl navigating and processing the world around her, while still layering it with a youth-informed naiveté (a neighbor mentions friendships with the Beatles, Gilbert, and Sullivan to no reaction).
Sloan populates this world with adults that feel both real and unique—especially in their interactions with the young protagonist. This is especially the case with a confident actress with dwarfism, an artistically gifted and self-possessed neighbor, and the play’s charismatic older director.
Amidst all the play drama, Sloan manages to deftly weave in tough topics like grief and identity with both the same humor and tenderness that made Counting By 7s such a hit.