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Tall Story Hardcover – 27 May 2010
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A warm, funny and moving stand-alone novel that will have you in fits of laughter one minute and in tears the next.
From the Inside Flap
What you want is not always what you get.
Even when your wishes come true.
Andi desperately hopes her long lost half-brother Bernardo will be as mad on basketball as she is. But when he steps off the plane from the Philippines, she can't believe her eyes. She hasn't seen him for ten years, but even so, how did he get to be EIGHT FOOT TALL? An eight-foot tall boy who is about to crash into her life with his size 22 feet.
But Bernardo is not what he seems. Bernardo is a hero, Bernardo works miracles, and Bernardo has a story to tell.
A bittersweet story, funny, sad and magical.See all Product description
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The characters are warm and engaging and the story spreads it's arms right around the world. It reads like a modern fable in some ways. Beautifully constructed, it held me in the palm of it's little papery hands right until the end.
I would recommend for 9 and up, younger if they're confident readers. Then again, I'm 44 and I loved it.
However Bernardo, his aunt and uncle have been keeping a secret from Andi's mum. A big secret. Bernardo is 8 feet tall and his village believes that he's a modern version of Bernardo Carpio - a legendary giant who saved the village from destruction by an earthquake.
Andi's life is turned upside down by Bernardo's arrival, not least when she's moved to a new school - one without a girls' basketball team. Similarly Bernardo's trying to come to terms with life in a strange country and his guilt at leaving his village - including best friend Jabby - behind.
Candy Gourlay's debut novel is a charming tale about accepting differences and superstition. It moves deftly between Bernardo's move to London and his life in San Andrea a small village riddled with superstition and populated with memorable characters, including best friend (and basketball fan) Jabby and the sinister witch Nena. Gourlay portrays the village with affection and what's refreshing is the loyalty that Bernardo has to it - even keeping a horrible Velcro suit specially tailored for him.
Bernardo is sweet-natured - gentle, loving, bewildered by his surroundings and struggling to deal with his condition. The betrayal he feels when Jabby wants him to play a basketball match because a giant will sell tickets is very touching, as are his attempts to reach out to the younger half-sister who he cares deeply for. Gourlay shows the problems that his condition creates - both socially and medically - giving him additional poignancy.
Andi is a firecracker - basketball mad, resentful of her brother's height when she's so short and frustrated by her mum's refusal to take her aspirations seriously. Some of the best scenes are between Andi and her mother - a brilliant creation who chatters constantly but loves and worries about both children.
The story unfolds in a slightly predictable way, but the quality of the writing carries it through. The supernatural element to the story is a delight, with just enough ambiguity to keep you wondering. Gourlay is a talent to watch and I look forward to her next work.
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This is storytelling at it's finest.Read more