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Tall Story Hardcover – February 8, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 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

Review

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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,085,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In all the years that I’ve been actively reading, this is the first time I’ve read a book where the characters are Filipino, where the majority of the story is set in the Philippines, where my culture is breathing and so alive.

Bonus: Tall Story is also written by a Filipino author.

It’s incredibly cruel. And it says so much about our publishing industry. We need more diverse books. We need more marginalized authors with unique stories to partake. And we need you to champion them just as much as you do for your standard default books.

‘Why would a giant shudder?’

‘Regret, of course.’ Old Tibo would shake his head sadly. ‘All giants regret that they had to leave Heaven to be with their mortal mothers.’

I’ve been a voracious reader as long as I can remember. At a young age I started devouring classic Filipino short stories about folklore from Sari Manok, the different tales of how Makahiya and Mount Maria Makiling become, The Story of the Piña, Ibong Adarna, The Monkey and the Turtle and more.

These stories molded me. These characters are my people. They are my home.

And reading Tall Story feels like coming home.

“Don’t be surprised now, Andi, your brother is tall. Tall, you hear me?”
Tall Story follows the life of Andi, a thirteen year old girl who is obsessed with basketball. She is persistent and wants to be her school’s new point guard. She is equally hoping her half-brother, Bernardo from the Philippines will be a fan as much as her.

Then he strutted off from the plane.

And yep. He was tall.
He is an eight foot tall, sixteen year old boy.

And from where he grew up, he is heralded as a “hero.”

Because of his unusually long limbs.
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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This dramatic story had me by the heart strings. Typically, you wouldn't think you'd be able to relate to an 8-foot tall, Filippino immigrant. This story puts you right in his shoes and makes you feel strongly for him and for his British-born, tomboy sister, who is meeting him for the first time. It was a very enjoyable book, with an original plot. I would recommend it to a teen, who can appreciate an emotional read.
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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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