Tall Story

By Candy Gourlay

From Goodreads: Be careful what you wish for …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 mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. But he’s not just tall …he’s a GIANT. In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

I felt in my gut I would like this story before I even opened it up to the first page.

At times Tall Story reads like a fairytale. Or, like it’s namesake, a tall tale. It has a magical feel, as it darts and weaves around, behind, and in front of its initial storyline, all the while keeping the reader still balanced and rooted squarely in the story’s center. It’s also simultaneously very grounded in our world. Some serious moments punctuate this tale, dealing with issues like culture, immigration, fear, and death. Though often it’s hard to focus on those sometimes heavier issues while you’re being entranced by Bernardo or amazed and amused by Andi. Both characters are full and real and a joy to read.

In all, this is a magical, funny, quirky book, with real-world depth, about traditions and stories and and most of all family. And one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Standout Script: “A river ran on the other side of the hill but not close enough to irrigate the fields. Bernardo pushed his finger into the side of the mountain and carved a stream from the river down to the fields, bringing irrigation and fresh water to the village. ‘If you look closely at the hillside,’ Old Tibo said, ‘you can just see giant footprints where he trod.’”

“The sun was turning into a red fist in the gathering dusk. I realized that we were approaching the new sports centre crouched at the end of the road, its dome bulging above the trees like an overturned coconut shell.”

“I stole the ball off the Reds’ point man and raced to the opposite end of the court. I stopped at the three-point line and jumped. Swish. You would have needed a poop scoop to scrape their jaws off the asphalt.”

Published: 2010 by David Fickling Books.