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Tall Story Hardcover – February 8, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Working through the many meanings of “tall story,” first-time author Gourlay slam-dunks this tale of a towering boy from the Philippines and the pint-size, basketball-crazy half sister with whom he has recently been reunited. Told in the alternating voices of Bernardo, who suffers from gigantism, and Andi, who longs to play point guard on her school’s b-ball team, the novel effortlessly encompasses real-world dreams as well as magic realism. Bernardo was left behind when his mother, a nurse, immigrated to the UK and forged a new family. In San Andres, Bernardo is seen as a reincarnated folk-hero giant who protects the area from earthquakes, though he believes the blame for his freakish height falls on the local witches who cursed him. In contrast to Bernardo’s anxieties over coming to the UK, Andi’s struggles of readjustment to her changed family appear minor. Wonderfully, though, Gourlay uses the dual viewpoints to show that Andi’s concerns are no less important. And, it turns out, she finds that there is more than one thing worth wishing for. This will capture the hearts and minds of sports lovers—and just about everyone else as well. Grades 6-9. --Karen Cruze


Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 2011:
"Contemporary Tagalong and British vernacular enhance the brother/sister narration and enliven the depiction of cultures. In her first young adult novel, Gourlay offers an appealing blend of diverse characters, emotional conflicts, well-paced action, and an upbeat finale. The challenges facing separated, immigrant families and the universal teen desire for acceptance and respect ring true."


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385752172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385752176
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was a journalist writing about dictators in the Third World before I took up a full time position battling dictators of the nappy-clad variety. I inadvertently became a web designer while avoiding doing the dishes. I take procrastination to new levels by blogging, drawing and making YouTube videos for fun. My debut novel TALL STORY has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for 13 awards. It won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe and the National Children's Book Award in the Philippines. My second novel SHINE will be published in the UK in September 2013.



Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gourlay's first novel shows her intimate familiarity with both cultures portrayed in the book - especially the Filipino culture, with its folk beliefs, obsession with basketball, familial loyalty, religion, close community, as well as the reality of immigration overseas to find greener pastures, often at the expense of keeping families geographically intact; and British culture, which she has embraced herself as an adult and in which her children have been raised. Her characters are wonderfully colorful and easy to visualize - from the gentle giant Bernardo to the diminutive and tomboyish Andi - and the rest of the supporting characters have their own engaging stories. I found myself immersed in their lives and laughing with, worrying about and cheering for them. I could easily picture Old Tibo or Jabby in my mind while reading about them. They are unusual but not outrageously so - cultural peculiarities add a rich source of learning for readers unfamiliar with them. There is an interesting mix of fantasy with reality, the fantasy coming mostly from legends and myths told by the characters in Bernardo's small town. The sports theme is not overarching, so as to turn off non-basketball fans. All in all, a page-turner with enough adventure, realism, emotion, myth, diversity and humor to entertain anyone! I highly recommend it!
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Format: Paperback
..Oh, wow. What a heartwarming, feel-good book :)

Family is very, very important. Would you agree? The sole reason that I do not want to work abroad is that, I do not want to be separated from my better half, my toddler son, and my "senior citizen" parents. I want to be with my best friend as we grow together in our married life. I want to be here when my son grows up. I want to be here for whatever number of years my parents have left before they retire to the afterlife. And so, Tall Story having centered on a Filipino family, here and abroad, pricked me, and that made it so dear to me.

I understood Nardo. Longing for a mom who's halfway around the world with his little sister. Constantly anxious over the townspeople's belief that he is their hero. Awkward over his gigantism. When his immigration papers came, suddenly living in London with his family is not a far-fetched idea. But the people of San Andres will not let him go, for fear of catastrophe hitting them once their hero leaves. And so Nardo's blackouts began.

I understood Andi, too. The jealousy over a brother that her mom probably loved more than her. The determination to own something for herself through her basketball skills. and the incredulity of how being a girl limits her from reaching her dreams.

How Candy Gourlay reflected Filipino family virtues through the characters was really nice. Andi's disdain for his brother was not prolonged, and so did Nardo's despair. The common destroyers (sibling rivalry, parent-child separation, overworked parents) of a family was kept at a minimum, thereby keeping the lightness of the story intact.

I love Jabby (well, minus the freak show incident). And that scene where he's calling for help? Creepy.
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Format: Hardcover
16 yr old Bernardo lives in the Philippines with is aunt and uncle. His mother lives in London with her husband and Andi, his step sister. For years Bernardo's family has been trying and waiting to get his Visa. Finally Bernardo is allowed to be with this family.

12 yr old Andi is looking forward to welcoming her step brother to London. Though when Andi discovers that Bernardo is 8ft tall, she doesn't know what to make of him and keeps her distance.
Andi's short like their mom. She loves playing basketball and really wants to make her schools basketball team, no matter that its boys only. Bernardo lives in a small village, named San Andres. Everyone believes Bernardo's height has kept the earthquakes away. Bernando believes we was cursed by Gabriela, the meanest girl in his school. The entire village is afraid of Gabriela's mother and thinks she's a witch.

The story alternates between Andi and Bernardo as the two get to know each other. Tall Story was very good and looking back on it I like it that much more. Gourlay fully develops Andi and Bernardo, surrounds them with great secondary characters, gives the reader a glimpse of London and the Philippines, a great basketball game, all without missing a beat. And its also laugh out loud funny. I absolutely loved the beginning.

Rush hour. So many armpits, so little deodorant. The whole world is heading out to Heathrow to meet long lost relatives. I am wedged between the tummies of the two fattest men in the world. Rank.

Bernardo's best friend Jabby (in honor of Karem Abdul Jabbar) might be one of my favorite secondary characters of the year. I have much respect for authors who put as much care and effort into their supporting character as they do their main ones.
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Format: Hardcover
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I was intrigued by Tall Story as soon as I heard of it, because while I am not as tall as Bernardo in the story, I am taller than most (6' 6 1/2", or 2m for you metric folks). Additionally, I am very eager to find books that explore diversity and acceptance in various manifestations.

The story is shared between Andi, a 13 yeaar-old girl who lives in London, and Bernardo, her giant 16 year-old half-brother, who lives in the Philippines with his aunt until the government gives him permission to leave. This wait has dragged on for years. Andi and d Bernardo have pretty much given up hope that he will ever come to live with their mother and her new husband in London.

But just when Andi and Bernardo seem to have settled into their respective lives, Andi playing basketball with a passion and Bernardo learning to cope with his new height, things start happening very quickly. Soon, both are disrupted and stranded in new situations that force them to rethink their views of themselves and others.

This parallel storytelling, with chapters alternating between Andi and Bernardo in first person, is both powerful and a little confusing. While each chapter is clearly labeled, it is easy to forget and be perplexed for a half page about whose perspective you are in. On the other hand, this helps to reinforce the sense that the dislocations in Andi's life are as potent and real to her as Bernardo's are to him. Throughout it all, there is a magic realism that pervades Bernardo's old village, but seems to travel with him around the world.

A fascinating story with clear and appealing characters, I would strongly recommend to both boys and girls. A strong sports theme makes this especially interesting for sports-oriented kids, although most others would like it as well.

Four stars out of five.
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