Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

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Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: A very tall Filipino teenager, basketball, village superstitions, brain scans, earthquakes... all combine in a delightful story for older children, teens, and, indeed adults.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: May 2010
Publisher: David Fickling Books
ISBN: 978-0385618946

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Andi is a young teenager in the UK. She's not very tall, but she is brilliant at basketball. And she has finally been chosen to play for her school team.

Bernardo is an extremely tall teenager in the Philippines. He lives with his aunt and uncle, and keeps on growing. He is surrounded by superstition, since his name is the same as that of a legendary giant who supposedly protected his village during a major earthquake. Oddly enough, there have not been any earthquakes for some years... ever since Bernardo had his first dramatic growth spurt.

Although the two are totally unalike, Andi is Bernardo's half-sister. For years he has been hoping to join her, and his mother and stepfather in the UK, but has regularly been thwarted by the Immigration officials. However, he finally has all the paperwork he needs, and is - at last - able to be with his family... in an environment that is totally unfamiliar to him. Yet while he's never seen a bath or an electric kettle, he does have - and uses - a mobile phone.

I did like this book. It's told in alternate chapters by Andi and Bernardo, charting the time before they meet, and Bernardo's first few weeks in England. It's sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing, sometimes moving. The writing is just the right pace to keep the reader turning the pages, and although intended for older children and teenagers, it appealed to me as an adult. It's the kind of book I'd love to have read aloud to my sons if they were still living at home.

As in any modern book for teenagers, contemporary issues are touched upon: Andi has to battle against sexism, antagonistic teachers, and feeling put upon by her parents. Bernardo has to struggle with English being his second language, and deal with ridicule due to his excessive height, as well as the awkwardness of fitting into a world made for shorter people. He has to fight, too, against the superstitions of his Filipino friends back home, and the guilt he still feels over past incidents, which are gradually revealed, woven seamlessly into the story.

There's a hint of magic, there's some increasing tension, and there's a growing awareness of a bond between this unlikely brother and sister which almost brought a tear to my eye.

All in all, I thought it an excellent read. Many thanks to the publishers for sending it.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like Catcall by Linda Newbery, or perhaps Holes by Louis Sachar.

Buy Tall Story by Candy Gourlay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tall Story by Candy Gourlay at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tall Story by Candy Gourlay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tall Story by Candy Gourlay at Amazon.com.


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