Summary and book reviews of Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Tall Story

by Candy Gourlay

Tall Story
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2012, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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About this Book

Book Summary

In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London where he belongs.

Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as crazy as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. Eight feet tall, in fact - plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth.

In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

Ages 10+

Prologue

Andi playing basketball. Illustrated by Candy Gourlay 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.


Mum's practically vibrating. Like she's overdosed on coffee. Which she probably has.


Dad's got his arm around her like a lock. She's fidgeting so hard and the train's so crowded. 'It'll be ages yet, Mary Ann,' he whispers into her ear.


'I just want to make sure we're there when he comes out.'


'He's sixteen. He'll be fine!' Dad kisses her forehead. Which isn't a stretch because the crowd is pushing them so close together his face is practically pasted to her head.


'But William' - Mum glares at his chin - 'he's so TALL!'


Why is Mum so psycho about Bernardo being tall? She's been going on about it since we found out he was coming to London.


'Don't be surprised now, Andi, your brother is tall. Tall, you hear me?' Does she think I needed impressing? I...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Tall Story alternates between the voices of Bernardo, who lives in the Philippines, and his half sister, Andi, who has only ever lived in England. How is Andi's voice different from Bernardo's?


  2. It is clear from the beginning that both characters have very strong desires. What does Andi really, really want? What does Bernardo really really want? How does the story show what they want?


  3. Though they are brother and sister, Bernardo and Andi have grown up in two very different cultures. Culture refers to taste, style, manner and beliefs. Discuss some of the cultural differences between Bernardo and Andi.


  4. Bernardo is desperate to be with his family in London. What is holding him back? Andi is desperate to play basketball. What ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Candy Gourlay has a unique and heartful voice. And Tall Story is the kind of book that feels familiar and brand new, all at the same time. It will appeal to a wide middle grade audience - both girls and boys because of its strong dual protagonists - and especially to basketball lovers! It has the ability to connect the reader to him or herself, and also to the incredible, wide world we all live in.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review Members Only (565 words).

Media Reviews

School Library Journal

Starred Review. 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.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Gourlay spins slender threads of wishes and prayers, magic and miracles, desires and redemption and weaves together an impressively sweet and rich tale.

Booklist

Starred Review. This will capture the hearts and minds of sports lovers - and just about everyone else as well.

Reader Reviews

Ridhima

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I liked this story very much.

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Beyond the Book

Who is Candy Gourlay?

Perhaps Candy Gourlay writes about dismantling the walls between people because she has chosen to scale them, push on them, and break them down for herself.

Candy tells a story about leaving Manila, where she spent much of her childhood, to live in England. Her two youngest brothers (she is one of six siblings) were just little guys at the time. When she returned for a visit a year later, one of those "little guys" opened the door and she didn't even recognize him and couldn't believe how much he had grown. She meant that he was so much taller and older. But she also meant, I believe, that she had grown during that year away. She had crossed a continent, had crossed cultures, had leapt over that wall.

Born in the city of Davao...

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