Aldo’s Fantastical Movie Palace

Written by Jonathan Friesen

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Chloe is in her first year of secondary school and hates school with a passion. It’s not so much that she hates school, as that she hates the other kids. Chloe had been in an accident, which left her neck and face scarred, and that made her a target for bullying. The family’s Movie Palace had been a safe place to hide all summer, but now school was starting up again and so would the bullying. Chloe was hoping that because she was now starting secondary school, with new kids from all over the school district who wouldn’t know the dreaded name the kids called her, that this would be a better year. Then she spotted a new kid at school, a blind kid, complete with a seeing-eye dog, and she had real hope that he would replace her as the target. That hope didn’t last long.


Creativity ran in Chloe’s family. There was her inventor father, who Chloe hated, because the accident had been his fault. And grandpa, who painted just about anything he came in contact with, including windows and walls. Then there had been Aldo, Chloe’s great-grandpa, who built the Fantastical Movie Palace. Chloe and her mom struggled to keep the Movie Palace up and running, but it was out in the middle of nowhere, and was costing more to run than it made.

Nick was an angry young man, who took his blindness out on everyone. His safe place was to get lost in a screenplay he was writing. It was about another land, where things were different, and the blind man was the hero.

Chloe’s mom asked Nick and his family over for dinner, and that was where the adventure started. Chloe discovered Nick’s screenplay, and started making changes in it, without asking. When Nick confronted her about it while Chloe was working in the projection room, they somehow ended up going through the projector and the screen, landing in a very strange land; the very same land that was in the screenplay.

This is a coming-of-age book, about how Chloe and Nick struggle to come to grips with what they perceive as their deformities and how they must fight the evil that is taking over. Chloe must decide who the real blind person is, try to spot the lies, and reach beyond herself to save those around her.

There are some difficult subjects covered in this book, including death, so it may not be a good read for the younger crowd, unless they can get involved in a discussion group to work through some of the issues.

I would recommend this book for sixth grade and up as a good way to open up discussions on bullying, self-esteem and death.

View the Book Trailer on youtube:

  • Aldos Movie PalaceTitle: Aldo’s Fantastical Movie Palace
  • Author: Jonathan Friesen
  • Publisher: ZonderKidz, 2012
  • Reviewer: Carole Robishaw
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0310721105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310721109
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
  • Lexile Score: 810, Grades 5-8

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