Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace by Jonathan Friesen


For ages 11-14
In the Darkness of this Theater, Anything Can Happen The family's broken-down theater has always been a safe place for Chloe. There, no one can see the scars that line her face-scars her inventor father accidentally caused, leaving even deeper wounds between them. In the darkness she meets Nick, a boy with his own hurts. While Nick isn't the most pleasant companion, a rocky friendship is formed over their love of films. Soon the two are working on a movie script about a fantastical world-one that suddenly comes alive on the screen. Chloe and Nick are transported into an adventure beyond what they ever imagined, filled with dragons, magical pools, and a sinister vapor that threatens to destroy everyone. But when tragedy strikes, Chloe must find the courage to step out of the shadows and find what she's always longed for.


This book has shades of Bridges to Terabithia, but it's quite original in its own right.

In Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace, Chloe meets Nick, a kid who has just moved into their neighborhood. Both of them have emotional scars and this, plus the script that Nick is writing, helps the two of them bond.

Jonathan Friesen has created a wonderful world. While I think the names of some of the characters and the places could have been more creative, I did like the concepts and most of the characters themselves. There are plenty of interesting things going on that will get your attention.

As this book is meant for older kids and young teenagers, some of the interesting stuff gets glossed over or fixed too easily. If this book had been aimed for a broader audience, ala Harry Potter, this would have been even better. As it is, so much was packed into the book that I didn't get to savor it as much as I wanted to. Perhaps this would have been better as a trilogy?

Of the characters in the book, I liked Nob the best. Chloe is okay most of the time, however, there were times when I found her annoying. By the end of the book, though, she became more mature, loving and tolerable, and the book finishes on a high note.

Thanks to NetGalley and ZonderKidz for the e-ARC.


  1. The world is interesting.
  2. There are some very nice prose.
  3. Some of the concepts are the kind of things that kids will really appreciate.


  1. The world and the characters would have benefited from more details.

"I will jump into the water and forget. All the problems that feel so large, I will leave on the shore. They will wait for me and be there when I emerge. I will worry about them then, but for a few moments, I will forget."

  1. You like Bridge to Terabithia.
  2. You like books wherein the hero and heroine create or travel to new worlds.
  3. Your child likes fantasy books.




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