Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay was the first of two books I was challenged to read for the NYHA 2011.  This is my review of the story – but stayed tuned for Holly at Book Harbinger and my evaluation of this and our second book, Premiere – On the Runway to decide which moves onto the second round.

Overall I thought this was a wonderful story!  The story was also written in what I’m learning is one of my favourite styles – hmmm… now I’m not sure what it’s called – but the story is told from the 2 main characters’ viewpoints.  So – one chapter is told by Bernardo with alternate chapters told by Andi, his half-sister.

So what’s the story all about?  I guess when I drill down to the nuts and bolts of the story – it’s really about the relationship between brother and sister, Bernardo and Andi.  Bernardo, is 8-feet tall and has spent all his life in San Andres, Philippines, living with his Aunt and Uncle.  His mother has been trying for years to get a VISA to have Bernardo move to London with her and when he finally gets one, he comes to London and moves into Andi’s room and her life changes in ways that no one imagined.  Andi and Bernardo were strangers but learned how to develop what turned out to be a very strong brother-sister relationship.

Bernardo has many struggles, one of which is a folk story that originated in San Andres that claims a giant keeps the earthquakes away from the village.  When Bernardo continued to grow taller – the local villagers claimed that it was Bernardo that stopped the quakes – so…  can he leave the village to live with his mother guilt-free?  In London, Andi loves basketball and just got on her local girls’ team when her parents announce they’re moving.  All her dreams are dashed as she changes school where there is no girls’ basketball.  And now there’s Bernardo, who she has to babysit – really??

I really enjoyed the imagery in this story – Atlas – holding the earth and how the author was able to link this to Bernardo.  It was fantastic!  I’ve always enjoyed mythology and to see it pulled into a modern-day story is great!  I also really enjoyed the basketball storyline – the juxtaposition of tall Bernardo who can’t play basketball and short Andi who loves basketball and is great at it!  Wonderful!  Although I have to admit there’s one line in the whole book that…  well…  as a Canadian I kind of take offense to :

“The Americans invented basketball.”  (p. 250)  why do I take offense to this?  Well…  believe it or not – basketball was invented by a Canadian, Dr. James Naismith.  If you don’t believe me check out the History of the NBA.

Here’s the Book Trailer created and uploaded by Candy Gourlay, the author 🙂


Ages: 12 and up

Favourite quotes:

“I stood there like Atlas, oceans and rivers sending trickles of water down my arm, forests like sandpaper against my skin, mountains poking into the nape of my neck.”                p. 45

“Andi was small but she was one of those people who gave the impression of packing an explosion of energy within her tiny frame.  I swear it sometimes felt like she was taller than me.”            p. 203-204

” The nuns of Sacred Heart were always lecturing us about false notions, like not washing your hair before going to bed for fear you will wake up a lunatic.  Or never stepping over  a sleeping child to avoid misfortune.  Or witches and black magic.”                p. 213-214

Gourlay, Candy. (2010).  Tall Story.  New York, NY: A David Fickling Book.

Author website:  http://www.candygourlay.com/


2 thoughts on “Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

  1. hi michelle – i only now saw your review – thank you very much! and i’m appalled that i got the james naismith reference wrong … my basketball teacher in high school said he was American but she might have meant North American or maybe she got it totally wrong. do you suppose i should change that reference in a future version of the book or can it stand as a wrong fact spouted by one of the characters?

    • Hi Candy!

      Thanks for dropping by! I wouldn’t worry about the reference – I think the characters in your book portray what the public believes. It’s funny how many people believe that basketball comes from the States – must have something to do with basketball being so popular there and the NBA of course 🙂

      Thanks again for dropping by! Have an awesome day!!!

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