Summary: This story focuses on two siblings on opposite sides of the world. There’s Bernardo, a high-schooler living in San Andres, the Philippines, a town that’s constantly troubled by earthquakes. Then there’s his half-sister Andi, living with his mom and stepfather in London. While Andi has a normal and basketball-obsessed life, Bernardo is considered a local legend in his town. People think of him as the “giant” who saved their town because the earthquakes suddenly stopped when he had his massive growth spurt – to 8 feet. So naturally, it’s considered a problem when his papers finally pass through the British government to let him live in London. Although the town tries to guilt-trip him, he leaves and makes a new home in London where his odd English and unusual height make him stand out. As he adjusts, you surprise yourself by starting to share in the superstition that the earthquakes will return to his old hometown.
Recommendation: In this fictional and wonderful book, Bernardo meets some real-life problems that are mostly brought on because of his height. In the Philippines, his towering tallness isn’t considered a bad thing – but the way that they glorify him as “their giant” sets him apart and drifts him away from his best friend, who starts to feel a little jealous. When Bernardo moves to England, he’s again singled out, but this time his startling appearance is seen as weird instead of special. At 8 feet and counting, Bernardo looks very different from his classmates, and this makes it hard for him to forge friendships. And since Andi (who has a bit of a temper) has just transferred to the same school, making friends proves a challenge for her as well. Even though these two half-siblings are drastically different – in height as well as temperament – one shared thing helps them feel at home: basketball. Once they join the school team, they make many friends and settle into their school. In the end, Tall Story turns out to be a true feel-good book, but it’s also full of deeper meanings that will keep you thinking.
Favorite Passage: “‘Maybe we just have to push it,’ I said, leaning my shoulder on the door and pushing. The door swung open. ‘See!’ ‘What was that sound?’ Mum said. It was a gentle rumble like traffic approaching. And then there was a thunderclap. And then the ceiling fell down.”