Tall Story

( 2 )

Overview

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 ...

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Tall Story

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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."
Publishers Weekly
Thirteen-year-old Andi's brother, Bernardo, has lived halfway across the world from her since she was born. But the British Home Office has finally allowed 16-year-old Bernardo to immigrate to London, and he arrives just as basketball-obsessed Andi is struggling at a new school where the basketball team is boys-only. Bernardo has grown up in the small Philippine village of San Andres where he is hailed as a hero—often compared to the legendary, Paul Bunyanesque figure of Bernardo Carpio—yet is plagued by a past tragedy. At over eight feet tall, Bernardo is indeed a giant, a fact that initially freaks out tiny Andi (the family discovers he has a tumor on his pituitary gland). The story switches between Andi's feisty narration and Bernardo's descriptions of life in his village (and the mystical responsibility he feels for it) as well as his adjustment to life in London. Small details, such as why modern-day Andi idolizes Michael Jordan instead of, say, LeBron James distract slightly, but overall first-time author Gourlay weaves just enough magic into this moving family reunion to deliver an emotional punch. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Told in two first person voices, this middle grade novel brings together the lives of two half-siblings. Thirteen-year-old Andi, the shortest and the youngest on her basketball team, has her life disrupted with a move into a bigger house and the sudden arrival of her half-brother from the Philippines. Sixteen-year-old Bernardo has lived his whole life with his aunt and uncle, waiting for the immigration papers that seem practically mythic in nature. The events of the back story are integrated into the narrative, making for a lively yet layered text. The alternating viewpoints allow us to see secondary characters through more than a single set of lenses: e.g., Mum who was "born with no volume control" and Mad Nena who gives Bernardo a gift that could equally be a curse. The legend of a giant who protects the village clashes with Bernardo's desire to be united with his mother and her family, so that his guilt hovers between the real and imagined and makes no distinction between them. Family bonds and affections carry across great distances, bridged inventively by cell phones and basketball. The conflicts lie in the intersections of the narrators' lives. Andi wanted a big brother, but did he have to be eight feet tall? Bernardo's great height (due to his gigantism) connects both to the legends of his native land and to a ticking time-bomb in his body, one that manifests dramatically on the day of an important game. Andi's smart, sassy voice and Bernardo's moody ruminations almost make the relationship of the siblings run parallel to the eruptions of the earth itself, back in the Philippines. Humorous moments allow breathing space and insights into the narrators' minds. In all, Gourlay has crafted a book that works at many levels—as an interesting read, a portrayal of heartfelt cultural connections rarely seen in books for young readers, a basketball story, and a tale whose repeating echoes place the plain old love of families right in the realm of magic. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Separated for years by immigration restrictions, Bernardo, a Philippine teen, finally gets legal permission to join his mother, a nurse, in England. His younger half sister, Andi, can't wait to meet her eight-foot-tall brother and share with him her love of basketball. Bernardo's desire to join his family is tempered by his loyalty to his village where he is compared to a legendary giant revered as a protector from earthquakes. After arriving in England, Bernardo gets medical help for a pituitary tumor and seizures; inadvertently propels his sister into realizing her dream of playing basketball; and reconciles his fears about leaving his village. Bernardo and Andi tell their compelling, heartwarming reunion story in alternating chapters. Bernardo grapples with adjusting to life in England, physical pain and superstition, and guilt when an earthquake destroys his Philippine village. Meanwhile, Andi struggles to fit into a new school and cope with added family responsibilities. 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.—Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
Kirkus Reviews

Twelve-year-old Andi's pleasure in her family's move to a real house and the coincidental long-awaited arrival of her older half brother from the Philippines is overshadowed by learning that only boys play basketball at her new school. For Bernardo, happiness about his immigration clearance is tempered by worry that his departure will expose his small village to earthquakes. Ever since he began to grow—he's now 8 feet tall—some villagers believe he is the returned legendary giant Bernardo Carpio, who saved San Andres from being crushed long ago. In alternating chapters, Andi and Bernardo describe Bernardo's first days in London—the chilly weather, the MRI for the seizures that Bernardo has begun to experience, the first real clothes that fit his tall body, the sister and parents who love him.Andi's voice is genuinely funny, tender and acerbic, especially about her parents; Bernardo's is thoughtful and earnest, his forays into English nicely handled with sympathetic humor.Gourlay spins slender threads of wishes and prayers, magic and miracles, desires and redemption and weaves together an impressively sweet and rich tale.(Fiction. 9-13)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385752336
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 483,669
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

CANDY GOURLAY was born in Manila during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. After working as a journalist for some years, she moved to the U.K. in her twenties. Candy is now a full-time writer across a range of mediums: short stories, blogs, Web sites, journalistic features, and radio programs. Tall Story is Candy's first full-length published novel.  Visit her on the Web at CandyGourlay.com.

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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Kira M for TeensReadToo

    Standing over 8 feet tall with size 22 shoes, Bernardo has always felt like somewhat of an outcast. While his mom, stepfather, and half-sister live in England, Bernardo lives in the Philippines in hopes of making it back to England one day. When his wish comes true, however, he has a hard time dealing with the hustle and bustle and unfamiliar feel of his family and home. Will he be able to adjust? Amandolina has always lived in England and has only met her older half-brother once when he was six years old. When she sees how tall he is, she hopes he loves basketball as much as she does. The initial thrill of a brother soon wears off, though, and the stresses of adapting to the change in schools, houses, and family starts eating away at her. Will she also be able to adjust? A fun, lively rendition of a modern-day folktale. The characters are well-developed, and the story is likable and holds the reader's interest. Those who like realistic fiction, books about blended families, and school stories will enjoy reading TALL STORY.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Isaac K

    I am reading this book on paper but I really want it on my nook.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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