May 2010, David Fickling Books
304 pages, Hardback
Summary from Random House Children's Books
Be careful what you wish for . . .
Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs.
Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. But he's not just tall ... he's a GIANT.
In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.
As soon as I saw it was on the the Carnegie Award Nominee list, I leapt to the relevant stack of books and placed it to one side to read. I first picked it up because I liked the cover - I love blue sky. Andi and Barnado's life does have some blue sky, but a lot of fog and storm clouds too (weather analogies could be due to the current snowfall in and around England).
As a person who is short, I empathise for Andi a lot. She has such a passion for a spot that mostly needs tall players. When she does get her dream position, she has to give it up. The disappointment is huge. She has great courage and doesn't abandon her dreams - she keeps trying, which is a show of true talent. Bernado is tall enough for the game, but he doesn't have all the skills he needs for it. Coming to England from the Philippines, Bernado has a huge culture shock. Everyone behaves differently, even simple things like taking a bath prove troublesome for him. His parents are highly understanding, but Andi feels tied to him, and sometimes disobeys her mother (or finds ways around the prohibitions). However, when tragedy strikes she is there for her brother, who was initially a stranger for her. It doesn't help that his English isn't so good, and her Tagalog is zilch - although she's a master at reading her mother's expressions.
The story follows both siblings as they grow used to each other, and as they cope with their own personal difficulties that life throws at them. Illness affects not just the person with it, but the ones who love them the most too. Andi and Bernado's story might help those who have similar experiences. Candy captures the numerous emotions involved with sudden illness and hospital visits. Equally there is a some paranormal activity in this book, so it should appeal to readers of many genres.
This is an engaging read, addressing people's beliefs, culture, perception of others and school life. There are many tender moments that might make a tissue essential, and some scary moments where the future looks bleak for everyone.
Candy has her own website here.
Suggested read: The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight by Jenny Valentine