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Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace Hardcover – August 11, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 14 years
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (August 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310721105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310721109
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,572,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old Chloe lives with scars on her face and neck caused by an accident with one of her father's inventions, and she is constantly aware of them: at school, where she is called Scarface, and at home, which is full of her anger and her father's guilt. When she meets Nick, a blind boy who writes a movie script about a fantasyland called Retinya, they begin to work on the story together. In the projection box of her family's movie theater, Chloe and Nick are magically transported to the world they've created and find themselves engaged in a struggle against the evil spirit Vaepor, who wipes away people's memories, leaving them in his thrall. Nick quickly disappears, and Chloe is left to puzzle her own way through this dangerous and confusing world as she searches for him and follows enigmatic clues in order to defeat Vaepor. Friesen has created some compelling characters and settings, but the story line begins to wander much like Chloe herself. Ultimately, the world of Retinya does not fully come alive. It remains as confusing to readers as it is to Chloe, and the device of having her as a coinventor of the world along with Nick is not followed through consistently enough to be successful. Strictly an additional purchase.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Metaphorical to the max, this begins with two damaged teens forming an entertainingly contentious bond as they work on a screenplay featuring a magic land. Then the story turns suddenly into a therapeutic quest fantasy set in that elaborately imagined world. Chloe, physically and psychologically scarred after a childhood accident, is both repelled by and drawn to blind, epileptic, and very angry Nick, who has created a country called Retinya where he can see. After a bitter fight in the projection booth of Chloe’s family’s movie house, Nick finds that he can crawl into the horror film that is showing. When Chloe follows, she finds herself in a darker version of Retinya, where she is charged with rescuing Nick and the other inhabitants from having their memories expunged. Chloe ultimately triumphs over both a monster and her own anger issues with help from a colorful supporting cast that has parallels in both worlds. Though reduced to a secondary character in Retinya, Nick also comes away with a measure of inner peace that lessens the impact of a tragedy that closes this somewhat contrived but action-filled adventure. Grades 5-8. --John Peters

More About the Author


Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he's not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids. Read more at


I had the perfect life.

I was the grade-school star and the teacher's pet. The world revolved around me and I suspected it always would. If you ask most people about their life, they don't begin with fifth grade. But that was a good year.

Illness changed that. I retreated into a shell and escaped into words. Writing a story sucked the pain out of me, at least for a while. That's when I learned to "feel" on paper. I didn't think I'd be an author, I didn't think I'd be much of anything, I was simply writing to survive.

Life changed in college. Health returned, the cloud lifted, and I got my teaching license.

Being a teacher, and being with those kids healed me. Surrounded by them, I relived periods of time stolen by childhood sickness. I was in my glory. But I couldn't escape storytelling. All those years expressing myself on paper left their mark.

While my students worked, I wrote at my desk. JERK, CALIFORNIA, my first book, flowed out of my own "lost years," but hope fills the pages. Writing it was a beautiful thing to experience.

I now live on a horse farm with my wife, three children, and a growing number of animals.

Our home is on a hill that overlooks a river that snakes through a beautiful valley. We tear along the stream on the 4-wheeler. My three kids race through the pasture and scale the sides of the sand pit; they search for agates and chase wild turkeys that trespass on the gravel road that connects our hill to the rest of the world. I have promised them chickens and horses, but for now they settle for bald eagle and bear. It's a good place to play and write.

At night, I walk out and listen to the wind rattle paper-thin bark on our birch trees. I stare at stars nobody else has seen and start a bonfire so bright it chases all the stars away. Then, my clothes full of smoke and my mind filled with ideas, I come inside and write until my fingers get heavy on the keyboard.

I love it here.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Elizabeth on August 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace -- where dreams come true, and nightmares too." {quote from chapter nine}

What I Loved: Okay, so I didn't absolutely loooove this book like I thought I would, but I did like it. I did love the fact that Friesen wrote about two young characters, Chloe (called "Scarface" by her peers at school) and Nick (the blind movie script-writer boy), who were flawed / had "handicaps" that took us on a journey through a magical screenplay into the fantastical World of Retinya. In Retinya both Chloe and Nick must face their fears and their flaws head on. They ultimately learn that imperfections aren't everything and that forgetting the past is not always wise. Sometimes remembering the past is not easy, but it will lead us down the road to healing and self discovery and peace.

Honestly, the story reminded me a little of Hugo Cabret at times with its freedom to just dream out loud onto the page. So, for that, I totally give props to Mr. Friesen! He definitely created a vivid, unique world full of flawed characters that needed to face their fears to find that they were both indeed more than their flaws. And the Fantasy elements of this book were great, I must say!

I loved the pilgrimage feel of the story as well (The Pilgrim's Progress, anyone?), as Chloe and Nick struggled to stay on the right paths that would lead them to find themselves and to ultimately make it to the City of Reckoning in hopes of defeating Vaepor.

There were also moments where some of the more "side-lined" characters made me laugh immensely, like Chloe's Grandpa and brothers for instance. I really wish that the Grandpa had been a more prominently featured character throughout the entire novel. I really do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Libbi on August 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Chloe hates the name-calling. She is sick of being taunted. It isn't her fault she has scars on her face. Instead of facing her insecurity head on, she hides away in her great grandfather's movie theater, Aldo's Movie Palace. When a strange boy comes in, she is immediately curious about his background. In a series of freak accidents, she is accidentally taken into his screenplay, "Retinya." Once there, she is forced to save the entire underworld from the evil Vapor, and help the kingdom of Retinya remember.
I liked:
The character development. It was definitely among some of the better character development skills I have seen, and the characters background stories were very well rounded.
The vivid descriptions. Obviously, until you read the book, you won't understand the importance of the descriptions. They are pretty fantastic. It painted an excellent picture for the reader.
I disliked:
The lack of God. I have always known Zondervan to be a Christian company, but you wouldn't know from reading this book. Although there are veiled references to analogies of God and the devil, there weren't enough for me to consider this a "Christian" book. That said, if this was , meant to be a secular book, it did a good job of introducing the idea of good and evil to a secular society.
The sadness. It was really sad. If it were a book for adults, I would understand (kind of) but this is a book for ages 10+. I hate it when people die in books. Especially when they are sick.
Overall, I did not love the book. Although it had its pros, it also had some cons. I would not recommend this book to anyone under age 13, solely because of the death. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy read.
This book was given to me free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are completely my own.
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Format: Hardcover
From the author of Jerk, California comes Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace. Jonathan Friesen has written a book about two damaged kids; Chloe who has facial scars on her hands and neck and Nick who is blind. The story takes the two main characters into an enchanted "story" where each is confronted with their own darkness. Both kids learn that their "baggage" isn't all that heavy and they learn to focus on love and life instead. It's a book about self-discovery, healing and acceptance.

Right off, this is a Zondervan (Christian publisher) release, so you must expect some element of Jesus or the gospel on some level - other times their works are just clean- wholesome reading that tech well learned morality. Also's read like almost a "Young Adult Pilgrim's Progress" in that it followed a character through a land of wonder - where they met fantasy-like characters - carried their "sin" (baggage) faced elements of good and evil and in the end learned about redemption and rebirth.

Granted the Christian themes are not as "blatant" in Aldo's as they are in Pilgrim's Progress but they are still there.

I would recommend this book to a slightly older reader - there are elements of danger, excitement and some of the characters in the book die.

Thank you to Zondervan & Zonderkidz for this advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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By Tish on January 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked how it was adventuresome and sort of like the real world when you deconstruct it.
I didn't like how the book dragged in some places, but overall, to me, it's award worthy.
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