Kirkus, starred review: 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. Read more
Karen Cruze, Booklist, starred review: Working through the many meanings of “tall story,” first-time author Gourlay slam-dunks this tale of a towering boy from the Philippines and the pint-size, basketball-crazy half sister with whom he has recently been reunited ... the novel effortlessly encompasses real-world dreams as well as magic realism ... This will capture the hearts and minds of sports lovers - and just about everyone else as well. Read the complete review on Facebook
Gerry Larson, School Library Journal, starred review: 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. Read the review
Linda Sue Park, Newbery-winning author of A Single Shard: ... no way anybody could put all that stuff into one relatively short novel and make it work, right? This book is like a magic trick: Hoo boy, does it work! Siblings Andi and Bernardo tell the story of their reunited family--Bernardo arriving in London from the Philippines--with just the right mix of humor and pathos. This would be a *terrific* read-aloud choice, as well as a manual for 'how to succeed with risk-taking in writing fiction.' Brava! Read the review
Tamara Smith of Bookbrowse wrote: 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. Read the review
Darcy Wishard wrote: Loved, loved, loved this story! Funny, sad and heartwarming I enjoyed every page. Sometimes I muddle through middle grade reads because of the obvious age difference and interest level but I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't thoroughly enjoy this sweet tale ... This is one of those times I feel my review can't say enough good things about a book or do it justice. With a wide range of readers, from 5th and up, I think this belongs in every library! Highly Recommended. Read the whole review
Tasha Saeker of the Waking Braincells Blog writes: ... weaves magic into a realistic story in a way that will have readers convinced that there is magic at work, yet able to also think it may simply be coincidence. It is very subtly crafted ... This book deals with deep subjects of culture, family and belonging. At the same time, it remains upbeat and celebratory of our diversity. This is a book that would work well as a classroom discussion thanks to its natural depth and its positive attitudes. There is plenty here to discuss that is timely and relevant to any community. Read the review
The Happy Nappy Bookseller blog writes: Tall Story was very good and looking back on it I like it that much more. Gourlay fully develops Andi and Bernardo, surrounds them with great secondary characters, gives the reader a glimpse of London and the Philippines, a great basketball game, all without missing a beat. And it's also laugh out loud funny. Read the review
The Times Recommended Children's Books for Christmas 2010: "Candy Gourlay's Tall Story is another pleasure from first to last, and it displays the assurance of a born storyteller." I was particularly pleased to see friends on the Christmas List - Firebrand by Gillian Cross, Castle of Shadows and Castle of Thieves by Ellen Renner, and Wasted by Nicola Morgan.
Marianne Adey, Carousel: "Part realistic, part fairy story, this charming novel deserves to do well. Andi and Bernardo live in two different worlds and yet they are half-brother and sister. Andi is agile and tiny. Bernardo is clumsy and too tall for normal clothes ... When Bernardo finally arrives in the UK, the two find that their links are stronger than either had realised ... this rich and amusing tale of two strangely intertwined lives will leave the reader with much to think about.
Sunday Times 100 Best Titles for Summer: "Candy Gourlay's debut novel Tall Story is a feel-good tale about basketball mad Londoner Andi and her 8ft tall Filipino half brother Bernardo, who is reunited with his mother and sister after 16 years of waiting for the necessary papers. Making use of Philippine superstitions and legends, the novel brings magic to a down-home story of earthquakes and sibling love."
The Bookseller: "Tall Story by Candy Gourlay combines wry humour and profound comment on cultural identity. It is an astute coming of age novel. There is an assured quality to the writing which wholly envelops readers in this convincing, witty and poignant story about difference, assimilation and family dynamics."
Judith Woods, the Telegraph: "... Tall Story is as much a sweet quirky fable as a coming of age account of two siblings ...Gourlay is herself a Filipina, and her voice rings true as she highlights what separates – and unites – cultures. Tall Story is a refreshing debut that will make children think twice about the power of magic and legends." Read the review
Amanda Craig, The Times Saturday Review: "The possibility of the supernatural woven into a life of struggle makes this faintly reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes though the plot is less complex. Gourlay is good at describing the comedy of family life and the underlying tragedy of life in a poor country; readers who are in sport will enjoy the drama of Andi's great match against a rival basketball team. This is a lovely book, as colourful, cheerful and original as its cover. "
Sally Morris, Daily Mail:
"Despite the initially funny tone, the story deepens to become a tale of mystical connection and love between very different people - with an uplifting ending. Gourlay's upbringing in Manila provides the authentic backdrop for this unusual story, which is her first novel." Read the review.
Jenny Woolf, Ham & High:
"Some of the best books for
teenage readers to
stay busy during
the long summer
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to view in readable size
Meat Cleaver Time: Bookwitch picks her Best Book of 2010: My best book of the year has to be Tall Story by Candy Gourlay. It just has to. It is closely followed by Linda Sargent’s Paper Wings and by Keren David’s When I Was Joe/Almost True. Keren having had two books out this year I can’t choose between them, so they share. They in turn are barely ahead of Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes and Ellen Renner’s City of Thieves. Read more
Library Mice: "What I particularly liked about this book, beyond the talented writing, is Candy's ability to mix many different themes; it covers witchcraft and curses, mythical stories of giants protecting the land from earthquakes, gigantism (a very real condition), as well very contemporary themes of poverty, immigration and integration, sibling relationships, and cultural identity and differences ... Candy Gourlay is great new and original voice in children's literature and I very much look forward to seeing what she has in store for us next." Read the review
Nayuleska, Nayu's Reading Corner: This is an engaging read, addressing people's beliefs, culture, perception of others and school life. There are many tender moments that might make a tissue essential, and some scary moments where the future looks bleak for everyone. Read More
Bookwitch Blog: "This seriously humorous book is incredibly sweet. The way Candy has woven what happens into an intriguing story is most impressive ... Tall Story is the kind of book which even as early as in January you can say will be one of the best in 2010." Read the review
KM Lockwood blog: You can’t really fail with a book that opens “Rush hour. So many armpits, so little deodorant” can you? Read the review
Engagingly told in alternate chapters by four-foot, thirteen year-old Andi, in the UK, and her eight-foot, sixteen year-old half brother Bernardo, in the Philippines, Candy Gourlay’s novel draws on her own experience as a Filipino. Read the review
Addy Farmer, Amazon Review: "A deft and beautiful piece of storytelling." Read the review
Writing from the Tub Blog: "It’s one of those books that is so sweet it makes me want to frolic through a field with a puppy or something, in a good way. When I finished the book I sat back for a few minutes and savoured what I had read, feeling all warm and fuzzy and that definitely cannot be a bad thing." Read the review
My Favourite Books Blog: "...deliciously wonderful and uplifting and it made me laugh and cry at the same time. I definitely think that David Fickling Books have a winner on their hands and I hope that Tall Story makes a big splash because it genuinely does deserve it. Small in size, but big in impact, Tall Story won't leave a dry eye in the house. It's so many things but mostly it's powerful storytelling at its best." Read the rest of the review
Portrait of a Woman Blog: "...this is a very touching and down-to-earth story about a family, about making choices and having to live with the consequences. You will laugh out loud at some of the moments and cry your heart out in others. And as everyone in the book falls for Bernardo, you will fall for this unique and original story !" Read the review
Jim Calliote's Blog:
The biggest thing about "Tall Story" is not eight-foot Bernard, but the magical way Candy Gourlay brings two very different people and cultures together, and makes us believe it was meant to be. Read the review
Rey Ramos of Book Aklat Libro writes: The book is categorised as a children's story, but honestly, there are underlying messages that the author would like to convey, not only for those kids who love to play basketball, who believe in myths/tales, but also for adults (like me) being captivated with Filipino hero characters (like Bernardo Carpio, Darna, Ang Panday, and many others) and supertitious beliefs. And most importantly, the story rekindles the human spirit, hope, faith and courage ... Read the review
Ruel S. de Vera, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Gourlay’s Tall Story is a lovable, accessible tale of two siblings, basketball and realizing the difference between the things that we want the most and the things that really matter. Read the review.
Andrea Pasion Flores picks the Ten Best Pinoy Books of 2010, Spot.ph. The heartbreak of leaving family members behind to work abroad and enduring years of separation may be an all too familiar scenario for Pinoys. While it might be considered too heavy for young readers, this is the art of Candy Gourlay. The author tells the story of basketball fan Andi, a young English girl whose 8- foot-tall Filipino stepbrother Bernardo was separated from her and their mom for 16 years while waiting for his papers to come through. Then one day, it finally happens--Andi and her stepbrother both find themselves in London. Things don't turn out as expected, and two siblings discover that sometimes, the unforeseen may be conquered with the power of shared wishes. View the list
Angelo Ancheta, Cerebral Cap: Reading a young adult novel like TALL STORY, a retelling of a legend I heard as a kid and situating the characters in the modern times of high-tech communication, of cell phones, email, personal digital assistants, and the like tells me no tale is ever tall. Something or anything TALL is relative, and that any obstacle or challenge that seems bad at first may not be at all. Read more
Tina Matanguihan, Philippine Online Chronicles:
Tall Story is a poignant, heartwarming story of clashing cultures, of family and sibling love, with just the right amount of magic, tears and laughter. This is one story that everyone, whether British, Filipino or otherwise, would not regret having read. Read the review
Carmela G. Lapena, GMA News TV: "In the end, it isn't just that "Tall Story" is well-written that makes it a good read. From the opening lines "Rush hour. So many armpits. So little deodorant," the reader is hopelessly captivated, and before you can say "I couldn't put it down," the 300 pages have been turned." Read the review
Chachic's Book Nook:
"A lot of us can relate to Bernardo’s story and how hard it is to live away from those you love. I think it’s great that a Filipino author with a young adult book has been published internationally because I’d love for you guys to read this book. It has a wonderful blend of contemporary fiction and Filipino mythology, resulting in a cohesive story that has a lot of heart." Read the review
Jzhun Agev, Dark Chest of Wonders Blog: "Candy Gourlay’s voice is a refreshing breath of air, writing in an accessible, kid-friendly, charming style peppered with comic wit." Read the review
Liz Morris of Inis Magazine (Ireland) writes: this book addresses many issues and gives readers a perspective on the feelings of inadequacy and strangeness experienced by those trying to master a new language while learning to adjust to new and complex family situations in unfamiliar suirroundings. The author skilfully and humorously draws the reader into the worlds and experiences of the half-siblings - and passes on a wealth of information about the world that unifies them. Read the full review by clicking on the image.
Claire Larson, ReadPlus (Australia) : "Candy Gourlay has made an incredibly complex structure flow like runny honey off a spoon. If this is her first novel I can't wait to see her next ...Look out for this in the 2010 awards. With an original plot, superb structure, impressive characterisation and equal boy girl appeal, I think we are sure to hear more of Tall Story." Read the review.
Mary Arrigan, Irish Examiner (Ireland):
Issues of separation, being different and family values are treated with humour and insight. Read the mention