Dear Candy Gourlay, What is the lesson of Tall Story?

Hey everybody, I made this for you!

I made this in response to a flood of messages from children doing book reports on Tall Story. I was going to call it a reading guide, but I think a discussion guide is more appropriate.

Why do your own book report when the author is just an email or tweet away? Here is one typical question:

Dear Candy Gourlay, What is the lesson of Tall Story?

I've had so many requests to help with book reports that I've put the following message on my Tall Story message board:

I've had a lot of questions recently that sound suspiciously like you're trying to get me to do your homework. Please don't. Thank you!

Even though I have no intention of doing their work for them, I'm grateful to all the kids who approached me for help with their book reports. These children have given me a peek into how Tall Story is being taught.

One thing that struck me was how how specific the questions are. You can get it wrong, or you can get it right.

To me though, a book should not just answer questions but create questions - and should be no right or wrong answers, because the experience of every book is personal. Check out these divergent reviews of Tall Story on Amazon:

Yes, the ew review hurt my feelings. But as an avid reader I myself have not loved books that others have adored. Reading is such a personal thing - everyone will react in a different way to a book. So wherever Tall Story is being taught, I hope teachers are encouraging children to share their unique responses to the book. And yes, dear teacher, I don't like this book, is a valid response.

So here's the answer to 'What is the lesson of Tall Story?'

There is no lesson. 

Only the hope that it will get you talking, asking questions, exploring your feelings. I wrote Tall Story because I wanted to make you THINK.

Hmm maybe I should have called it a thinking guide!

If you have any suggestions for reference materials I can make for Tall Story, I'd love to hear from you! Message me on the contact form on the sidebar!


  1. I like how you rumbled them for the homework! Yeah, books are a totally personal and subjective experience. And that's how we like it!! By the way, I ADORED your book. So there, ew.

  2. I'm another fan of Tall Story but not a fan of how literature is 'taught' in schools. I know why, I know there are exams to be passed and boxes to be ticked but it makes me sad. I love that you acknowledged both good and bad reviews - you're right. I'm one of the few people on the planet who could not get into The Amber Spyglass ( though I've read and enjoyed other Pullman stories). To this day I feel there is something wrong with me that I failed to connect with that book but that's what's is both great and terrible about being an author isn't it? Sometimes the connection will be like a live wire - as it was for me reading Tall Story - sometimes it will be like an earthing cable and all the current will just hit the earth with a dull thud...pffft...I'd love to know what books fired up DaisyBee's circuits! might have to go and have a look...

    1. Aww thanks Kathy - this is why when you LOVE a book, it's important to get out there and post reviews. Reviews motivated by love than by hate are what really matter.


Do you feel a burning need to have your say? Or maybe just to say hello? Then come along, click away ...