Tall Story

So many armpits, so little deodorant.

Basketball-mad Andi thinks she has big problems until she meets her long-lost brother Bernardo who is tall ... but not just tall - a giant. Bernardo is eight feet tall. He suffers from a disease called gigantism but in his little village, people think he's a legendary giant come to save them from earthquakes! 

UK / US EditionPhilippine Edition


Andi vive a Londra, ha tredici anni, è piuttosto bassa per la sua età e ha una passione esagerata per il basket. Bernardo vive nelle Filippine, ha sedici anni, un corpo decisamente fuori misura e una grande passione per il basket. Andi e Bernardo sono fratelli: cresciuti alle due estremità del mondo, finalmente stanno per incontrarsi. A Londra. All’inizio Andi è delusa da quel ragazzone goffo e strano, ma con il passare del tempo impara a volergli bene. Perché Bernardo non è quello che sembra. Bernardo è un eroe. È capace di fare miracoli. E ha una storia incredibile da raccontare: una storia che fa piangere e ridere al tempo stesso, ed è colma di magia ...

"Una storia a due voci, intensa e vera nella sua semplicità. Da far leggere, assolutamente." Le Letture di Bibliogragazzi


Booklist, starred review. The use of two narrators, both with distinctive voices and different accents (British and Spanish), to bring the dual stories of half-siblings Andi and Bernardo to life, works beautifully in this exceptional audio. Entwistle’s Andi, a pint-size, basketball-crazy English girl, is by turns tender and tough.Her anxious hopes and fears about meeting her half brother, who grew up in the Philippines and is coming to London, come through as an undercurrent beneath her sometimes impatient, occasionally sarcastic voice.Bernardo, who has a condition known as gigantism, comes across in de Ocampo’s interpretation as deliberate and grounded, a product of his provincial upbringing.

He also often sounds perpetually astounded, both because he is finally coming to the UK to be with his mother and family and his status as a reincarnated folk-hero giant in San Andres, where ancient myths and beliefs about witches, curses, giants, and earthquakes surround him.

As the story bounces back and forth between Andi and Bernardo, their wishes about their changed circumstances become more focused. For Andi, it’s no longer all about her desire to be the point guard on the school basketball team. Bernardo’s escape from a disastrous earthquake in his native land softens her outlook. A lovely story for those who treasure realistic fiction with heart.


Winner of the first Crystal Kite Awards for Europe 2011.

Winner of the National Children's Book Award in the Philippines 2012. View

100 Magnificent Children's Books of 2011, School Library Journal. View

Kirkus Outstanding Children's Debuts of 2011. View

Nominated for the Carnegie Medal. View

Junior Library Guild selection. View

Times Recommended Children's Books for Christmas 2010

Sunday Times 100 Best Titles for the Summer 2010

National Geographic Kids Brilliant Summer Books 2010

Kindle Best Books of February 2011



The Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2011 View

The Blue Peter Children's 'My Favourite Story' Award 2011 View

The UKLA Children's Book Prize (12-16 category), 2011. View

The Branford Boase Award 2011 View

"Gourlay spins slender threads of wishes and prayers, magic and miracles, desires and redemption and weaves together an impressively sweet and rich tale." Kirkus starred review Read

"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 ... This will capture the hearts and minds of sports lovers - and just about everyone else as well." Booklist starred review Read

"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." School Library Journal, starred review


Sakura Medal (Japan) - International Schools across Japan vote for their favourite books.

The Brilliant Book Award (Nottinghamshire) - also shortlisted were: Agent 21 by Chris Ryan, Burning Secrets by Clare Chambers, Gravenhunger by Harriet Goodwin, Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood, The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham

"...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!" Linda Sue Park, Newbery-winning author of A Single Shard Read
New Horizons Book Award (Dorset) - also on the shortlist: The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin, Mist by Kathryn James, Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, Six Days by Philip Webb

Tower Hamlets Book Prize - also on the shortlist: Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, Letters from an Alien Schoolboy by Ros Asquith, Vampire Blog by Pete Johnson, Street Heroes by Joe Layburn, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

"...The possibility of the supernatural woven into a life of struggle makes this faintly reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes ... 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." Amanda Craig, The Times

"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." Sally Morris, Daily Mail

"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." Judith Woods, The Telegraph

"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." The Bookseller

"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." Sunday Times 100 Best Titles
Salford Book Prize - also on the shortlist: Sparks by Ally Kennen, Mortlock by Jon Mayhew, Shadow by Michael Morpurgo, Double Crossing by Richard Platt, The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley, The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh.

Warwickshire Primary Book Prize - also on the shortlist: How Ali Ferguson Saved Houdini by Elen Caldecott, The Maskmaker by Jane Johnson, Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St. John.

Stockport Schools Book Award (Key Stage 2). Also on the shortlist: Billionaire Boy by David Walliams, Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John, Wishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes.

Leeds Book Awards (11-14 category). Also shortlisted: The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin, The Dead by David Gatward, The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestly, Desperate Measures by Laura Summers, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadknight by Jenny Valentine

Hillingdon Secondary School Book of the Year 2011. Also on the list were: Halo by Zizou Corder, The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester, Two Good Thieves by Daniel Finn, The London Murder Mysteries: The Montgomery Murder by Cora Harrison.

Click here to view more Tall Story Reviews