Thursday, May 08, 2014

Standing on The Magical Shoulders of a Giant: A Book Review of Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Tall StoryTall Story by Candy Gourlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book last January, during a children's literature workshop. Then, I got busy. I left my copy in the bathroom and later discovered that my husband finished it ahead of me. What is up with that? He usually doesn't read. But this one he finished. So, I went back to it...and was richly rewarded.

Tall Story, while a young adult novel, is also a lovely novel, period. I'd recommend it for all ages. When my son has graduated from thinner chapter books (he's still in grade one)...this will definitely be in his reading list.

It's about Andi, a young half-Pinay-half-Brit girl who happens to be short but a killer basketball player, and her gigantic (eight-foot) half-brother, Bernardo. This is a story that alternates between Andie's and Bernardo's points of view. I really liked it. It provided a very rich contrast of two worlds brought together by the same mother (and um, basketball).

What I absolutely loved about it was the fantastical description of Bernardo's fictional earthquake-ridden hometown, San Andres. In it, you'll still find anting-anting (magical amulets), witches, werewolves, and the legend of Bernardo Carpio, the giant who saves San Andres from earthquakes but who goes to sleep in the mountains never to be seen again. I love how it ties in to Bernardo leaving one world for another when his mother in the UK claims him. The leap is, indeed, a huge one.

More than anything, it is the growing affection (and later on, love) between brother and sister that becomes captivating and endearing. There's a lot of Pinoy-English humor in it as well as little vignettes about (and tributes to) the Philippines' number one sport, basketball (a sport that isn't popular at all in the UK). I had a wonderful time reading this book.

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