It’s not a big story. Candy Gourlay’s 2010 children’s novel ‘Tall Story’ was named one of the best books of the past 100 years by venerable UK charity BookTrust.
âIt was so unexpected,â London-based Gourlay told Lifestyle. “I had no idea this list was going to come out and to be honest it was mind blowing to be on a list with Anne Frank, Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman.”
“Tall Story” has been included in the category for ages 12-14. Gourlay is in very august company, as other picks in the same category are “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness, “Wonder” by RJ Palacio, “Ursula Le Guin” A Wizard of Earthsea “and” The Diary of a young girl “from Frank.
Besides the books by the aforementioned authors, other books among the 100 are âCharlotte’s Webâ by EB White, âThe BFGâ by Roald Dahl, âA Bear Called Paddingtonâ by Michael Bond, âAre You There, God? It’s me, Margaret “,” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone “by JK Rowling,” The Hobbit “by JRR Tolkien and” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe “by CS Lewis.
Gourlay moved to the UK in 1989 after getting married to former Financial Times correspondent in Manila, Richard Gourlay.
After finding an agent, she finished writing “Tall Story,” which was published by respected children’s fiction house David Fickling. This book has been nominated for 13 awards and won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe and the National Children’s Book Award in the Philippines. Its Philippine edition was originally published by Cacho Hermanos and currently by Anvil Publishing Inc.
“Tall Story” is about a 13 year old teenager in London named Andi (OK, that’s short for Amandolina) who is basketball crazy even though it looks like no one else is. . But one day his long-lost half-brother from the Philippines arrives, and Bernardo is 8 feet tall and wears size 22 shoes. But that’s just the start of the game for a book that goes back to Andi in the Philippines, on Filipino culture and the links between siblings.
âWhen I wrote ‘Tall Story’ I was worried if a book set partly in the Philippines would appeal to young readers more accustomed to a Western diet of books. The response then has been incredible, with all the major presets and great reviews – and the honor of a National Children’s Book Award at home in the Philippines, âshe says.
âAnd year after year, ‘Tall Story’ continues to be discovered by generations of children. It stays in print and continues to be read in schools! Just last week, I was the guest of a question-and-answer session for children from several schools in a London borough who were reading âTall Storyâ. Last year, 2020, would have been the 10th anniversary of âTall Storyâ. I couldn’t celebrate because of the pandemic, so this list comes at an important time. “
âWhat was important to us when creating this list was to come up with something that reflected the diverse nature of children’s lives today and to celebrate the truly brilliant – and often groundbreaking – books that we know how to entertain, inform and delight children, âa statement on the BookTrust site read. The list excluded books written for readers over 14 and before the last century. (Read the full list here: booktrust.org.uk/100-best-books.) BookTrust is the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, dedicated to helping millions of children learn to love reading at across the UK through their various programs.
Gourlay followed up âTall Storyâ with âShineâ in 2013, which also won the Crystal Kite Award for Europe and was named one of The Independent’s 50 Best Winter Reads. In 2018, Gourlay published a children’s book titled âSirena Ba Yan / Is It a Mermaid? Â», Illustrated by Francesca Chessa.
In 2019, her third novel, ‘Bone Talk’, was shortlisted for the 2019 Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious literary award for children’s and young adult books published in the UK. Gourlay is the first Filipino writer to be shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. The book was also shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award.
Maria Cristina Lopez Quimpo (later Gourlay) was born in Davao and graduated from Ateneo de Manila University in 1984. She worked for the Mr & Ms special edition under the guidance of publisher Eugenia Duran Apostol and the editor Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. She stuck around when this publication became Inquirer Weekly as one of its first reporters; she then worked in the office of what is now the Inquirer. She writes fiction for young readers, great, obviously.
And like the writer that she is, what does she do right after being named to such a wonderful list? She writes her next book: âMy head is down, I’m working on my next book which, if I meet my deadline, will be out in the second half of next year. Crossed fingers!”