Julia is very short for her age and this is the summer she gets cast as a munchkin in a production of The Wizard of Oz. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but as Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive – an adult with dwarfism who doesn't let her size define her – and with a deeply artistic neighbor named Mrs. Chang, she finds that she may not be as tall as everyone else, but she more than deserves to hold her head high.
I’m often asked by readers about my favorite things. What are your favorite books? Your favorite movies? Your favorite songs? When I was on book tour in the UK, a kid in Wales asked me to name my favorite cheese.
Is it the hope that my favorite will be your favorite? Or is it that I might have insider information? Are you looking to know me better? What do my favorites say about me? And what does your reaction to them say about you?
When asked, I usually answer that what is my favorite on one day will have shifted the next. I form attachments, of course, but part of being a writer means to me being both an observer and a participant. So I try to read a lot of new books. See many new movies. Listen to new music. I have favorite foods and favorite restaurants, but I truly love trying something new. That’s equally as comforting to me.
I love meeting new people. And here is another admission: I like getting lost. I like not knowing where I am. I don’t like to use the talking map function on my phone because I want to be forced to see the world around me and make choices. I love to travel. My favorite place today won’t be my favorite place tomorrow. The thing that visually excites you one day may very well leave you cold in the future.
All of this is a way of saying you’re looking for advise, here’s something: Beware of tattoos.
My youngest son has a tattoo and hid it from me for two years. I’m not a fan of ink, maybe because of this whole favorite thing.
So my rule is no favorites.
But every rule has an exception…
And this leads me to The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.
I love this story.
I love everything about it.
I love that the main character is young girl.
I love that she has power in the world, even if it seems that she doesn’t.
The magical setting of Oz, the terribly bad Wicked Witch, the music, the movement, the color, the themes, the costumes. All of these things are my favorite.
When you love something when you are very young it makes a deep impression. I loved the movie of The Wizard of Oz and then I was in the play The Wizard of Oz and now I’ve written a novel titled SHORT that involves this story.
So even someone who tries hard to not play favorites can make a confession: I heart L. Frank Baum.
“I grew this summer. Not on the outside, but on the inside. And that's the only place where growing really matters.”
JULIA MARKS ... Julia is small on the outside but big on the inside. This is the summer that will change her life.
RAMON ... was Julia's dog. He was rescued. She loved him with her whole heart.
RANDY ... is Julia's little brother. He can sing. He can dance. He's one happy kid.
MOM ... works hard. Organizes life. Wants everyone to do their best.
DAD ...also works hard. Keeps the family scrapbooks. Is a solid dad.
TIM ... is Julia's older brother. He plays guitar and it sometimes feels like he's in his own world.
MRS. CHANG ... is Julia's neighbor and is the most original person Julia's ever met.
SHAWN BARR ... is the Director of the play The Wizard of Oz. He understands talent comes in many forms.
OLIVE ... is a mentor for Julia. She has confidence and grace and understands how things in life work.
QUINCY ... is fun loving.
LARRY ... likes a challenge and can make people laugh.
STEPHEN BOYD ... is someone from school who Julia cares about.