Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace

Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace

by Jonathan Friesen


$7.19 $7.99 Save 10% Current price is $7.19, Original price is $7.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days
4 New & Used Starting at $1.99


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310723219
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Publication date: 07/22/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 11 - 14 Years

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 an Excerpt

Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace

By Jonathan Friesen


Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Friesen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-72110-9

Chapter One

I'm a genius, Chloe." Dad raised his fists to the sky. "Someday, a teacher will ask you to name the world's greatest inventor, and your answer will not be Thomas Edison, no siree." He lowered a hand, placed it on his chest, and bowed. "You'll say, 'It's none other than humble Ray Lundeen.'"

Chloe laughed. "Humble?"

"Okay, humble is a stretch. But great? Absolutely." Dad led her around the barn to the daisy field and the rusted horse trailer. He pointed to his head, and then shook his finger at heaven. "Today, I will pull Inky, and her trailer, using magnetism!"


"No more need for expensive hitches. And to prove it, I'll haul your horse to the trailhead using the junker."

Chloe squinted. "We don't even drive the Escort anymore. How are you going to pull the trailer with that?"

Dad hooted, threw his baseball cap into the air, and raced across the farmyard.

"You are crazy, Dad," Chloe whispered. But a good kind of crazy.

The tiny wagon wheezed and sputtered toward the daisies. Dad turned off the engine and sprang out of the beater, heading straight inside the barn. He reappeared moments later fumbling with a chain connected to a series of metal plates.

"Here." He thrust the mess into Chloe's hands. "My latest invention—patent pending, of course. The Connect-It-All. A farmer's dream." Dad straightened and thumbed his suspenders. They snapped against his strong chest. "Now anything can pull anything. What do you think?"

"I, uh, think it's great if it works."

"Sure it works!" Dad scowled. "How dare you doubt your own father?" He snatched the plates from Chloe's hands then bent over, and soon the Escort was fastened to the trailer.

"Prepare to be amazed. She's strong enough to pull three tons." Dad hopped back in the car. "I'm going to pull the chain taut. Then see that white clamp on top of the bumper? Press 'er down and we're good to go."

Tires spun and the engine revved and the Escort inched forward. The chain tightened and creaked against the weight, and Chloe stepped forward.

The Connect-It-All. You finally invented some- thing that works.


"You bet! Clamp 'er! Your mom's gonna be so proud."

Chloe bent over and pushed. "Dad, this is so—"


Chain links whipped across her face, and she fell back onto the dirt.

"Darlin'!" Dad's voice faded. "Sweetie! Can you hear me?"

When Chloe opened her eyes, Dad cradled her head, but his face blurred, as if a thick cloud floated between them.

"Am I okay?" she whispered.

That cloud began to rain.

Chapter Two

Hop to, darlin'. It's time to walk Grandpa!" Chloe let her head thunk against her bedroom door. I'm fourteen, had the upstairs bedroom since I was eleven, but Dad's never once climbed the stairs.

"I need to get creatin', Sugar-nut."

"You're calling me a nut?" she muttered.

Chloe bit her lip, hard. Why couldn't he talk like a normal dad? No more "Mount ups" or "Giddyaps." There's not a drop of cowboy blood in him; the man's never left Minnesota.

"Bean Chunk! You hear me up there?"

"Fine," Chloe said.

Sadness washed over her. Short and quiet—those were the only words she could offer him. She wanted to say more, and maybe she would ... someday.

Chloe dressed and bounded down the steps into the kitchen of the old farmhouse. Mom stood at the stove. Even from the back, she was beautiful. Her hair was black like night was black, her skin smooth and dark.

Dad used to say we looked alike. He doesn't say it anymore.

Chloe stroked the raised, jagged scars that stole all beauty from her face and neck. Each night she begged God to erase the ugly white lines. So far, he hadn't.

Chloe watched as Mom's smooth hand cracked an egg on the counter. The yolk dropped all lazy-like into the fry pan before she glanced over her shoulder and forced a smile.

"The twins are ate and gone. I'm sure up to no good." Mom stared out the window where morning haze had all but burned away over the Snake River valley. "It's going to be a hot one today." She exhaled slowly and shook her head. "Hot and sunny and beautiful."

Most people were happy when the weather was nice. But not Mom. Sunny, late-summer days meant kids bought wristbands and filled the pool in Melmanie, instead of buying tickets to fill the seats of Aldo's Movie Palace, the theater she owned.

"Yeah, rotten weather," Chloe said. "Maybe it'll rain tomorrow."

Mom peeled bacon strips and laid them beside the eggs. They crackled and shriveled in their greasy bath. "You're unusually optimistic." She kissed Chloe's forehead and swatted her backside. "Now hurry up. Breakfast is almost ready and Grandpa's waiting."

Chloe scampered out the front door and sprinted to the barn. The doors were shut, but she heard Dad's laugh, his and all the husky-voiced men. Dad's "employees." He paid them with sleeping space in the barn and seats at one of two picnic tables in the Lundeen dining room.

Mom smiled and called them riffraff. "Proof of your father's kindness and goodness." Chloe called them hungry drifters who made Mom work twice as hard.

Chloe tried to ignore them—to keep running, to keep looking left and not peek at the thistle bed that long ago choked out the daisies. But her head turned, like it always did, and there was the horse trailer. And the Escort. And the busted chain. Her feet grew heavy.

"When we're done building the wings—" Dad stepped out of the barn. His gaze bounced from his daughter to the thistles, then to the ground.

"I'm fixin' to rid us of that contraption real soon." His voice softened. "Real soon, sweetie."

Chloe nodded and ran away from the barn, from him, from his promise.

* * *

She reached Grandpa's trailer home, parked in the field between the hen house and the dairy farm beyond. Slow-moving cows mooed in the distance. They looked like black and white boats floating through a sea of green.

"Grandpa?" She pounded on the door. "Grandpa, you ready?"

"In back."

Chloe walked around to the other side of the trailer. Grandpa Salvador was painting again.

He finished with a flourish and stepped back, squinting at his work.

"What do you think, Chloe?"

She stepped back too. "I think you just painted melting fish erupting out of a volcano all around your new ... really obnoxious, bright-blue window."

"Yes, yes. I did. It's a wonder my bad heart was up to it." He winked and tousled her hair. "What do you think about my paving stones? Do they remind you of anything?"

Chloe scanned the row of decorative rocks, painted blue and waiting to dry in the morning sun. "It's like they're from the Wizard of Oz ... except they're not yellow."

"Ahaa! This is correct. They are blue! And very difficult to paint. My father would have been proud of me. How I miss dear Aldo, but ..." He grabbed Chloe's hand. "You have come to walk your poor, weak grandpa. Let's put on a good show."

She shook her head and smiled as he dropped the paintbrush.

"Now walk very near today, and keep your arm in mine. I will lean on you from time to time, especially as we pass the house."

"I'm ready." They snuggled close and shuffled across the center of the farmyard. The porch door slammed and Mom stepped out. She shook her head, smiled, and waved.

"Lift my arm and return the gesture."

Chloe did. Mom wiped her eye with her apron.

Together, they made their way onto the path that cut through the fifty-acre field. Only their shoulders and heads would be visible from the house above the wild wheat and hay. Grandpa pulled free and stretched. "Will you go to the pool today? I've heard some swimmers practice before trying out for the swim team."

"Maybe tonight. After ... after the kids are gone. But I've been thinking I won't go out for swimming this year."

"Ah, yes. The other swimmers frighten you."

"They don't scare me," Chloe said. "I could beat them all, it's just ..."

Grandpa peeked down. "Because in your swim- suit a certain mark is more noticeable?"

Chloe rolled her eyes, and frowned. "Do we have to talk about this?"

"No, my dear, we don't. We can continue to ignore what you continue to run from—"

"Who says I'm running—"

In the distance, they heard a shout, and then a laugh, followed by a string of words Mom would never allow.

"That was Mr. Henks's yell." Chloe stared at the dairy farmer's herd.

"And that was Grif's laugh." Grandpa sighed. "Again, your brothers are up to foolishness."

From the far end of the field they appeared— tall, lanky Grif and short, pudgy Quenton—bounding toward home, paint guns in hand.

"It looks like I'm not the only one painting this morning." Grandpa pointed at a cow splotched with green. "While it's nice to see they've inherited Aldo's creativity, I have no desire to explain this to our neighbor right now. Come." He picked up the pace.

Chloe glanced from the cows to Grandpa's step. "You look strong today. Why did you pretend?"

"When I'm weak, your mom feels good and needed. She won't feel this way tonight—it will be a slow day at the Movie Palace." He gestured around. "Sunny day and all."

They walked quietly for a long time.

"Do you think my painting will help the green cows erupt with more milk?"

Chloe nodded. "Absolutely."

"Yes. This is what I thought." Grandpa plucked a piece of wheat and put it in his mouth. He chewed and rubbed his stubble and chewed some more. "I lie in bed sometimes and wonder what Aldo would paint if he were here."

Chloe plucked a stalk of hay. "You were lucky to get along with your dad."

"No." Grandpa spit out his wheat. "There was no luck to it. Aldo was stubborn and demanding, and living with him was hard work." He stopped.

"He never called you Sugar-nut." Chloe kicked at the grass and pounded on ahead.

They reached the end of the trail and Chloe slowed. Grandpa caught up and leaned on her shoulder. "Take me to my volcano ... Sugar-nut."

She tried not to laugh, but a giggle squeezed out.

"So you aren't really angry about the name." Grandpa smiled.

They stopped in front of the trailer door, and he stroked Chloe's cheek, traced the scars down her neck, up her chin, and across her upper lip.

"My Chloe. You are beautiful." He gazed over her head. "As beautiful as a distant memory. Young folks do not know how lovely memories are. Without them, what are we?" Grandpa looked back to her. "With them, we are beautiful, as are you."

She couldn't answer, because like their show for Mom, she knew it wasn't the truth. Chloe pulled back from his hand.

"You doubt this?" Grandpa said.

Loud laughter came from the barn, and he continued. "The accident also haunts your father."

"Why can't he talk normal to me? Or even look at me?" She shook her head. "He laughs at Grif and Q and all their ... creativity. I mean, what's the difference between my brothers and me? Only one thing." She pointed at her neck.

Grandpa closed his eyes. Chloe turned toward the house and stormed back passed the barn, where she peeked again.

You sold my horse. Get rid of that trailer.


Excerpted from Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace by Jonathan Friesen Copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Friesen. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
mojo_turbo More than 1 year ago
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.
OhRestlessBird More than 1 year ago
"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. Also, from reading the back cover blurb I assumed that Chloe and Nick would be together throughout the entire adventure through Retinya, but this wasn't so. And at first this greatly bothered me. But in a way I thought this was a pretty smart idea on Mr. Friesen's part because it made me think of Hans Christian Andersen's story The Snow Queen and of how Kay and Gerda must go on an adventure too, though they are not together for the whole adventure either...they both come out changed and "found" on the other end. What I Didn't Like So Much: I won't spoil anything for you all, but I will say that the beginning and ending both left me cringing and upset. Now, that said, I do want to read the rest of Jonathan Friesen's books after having finished reading this one, mainly because while this book left some things to be desired in some instances, overall I really did enjoy Chloe's character, the vividry of verbage, the Fantasy World of Retinya (cool name, huh? Kind of like retina, you know?) and Mr. Friesen's storytelling abilities. So, was AFMP an instant favorite book? No, not completely. But it was good enough to warrant me desiring to have another go at reading a Jonathan Friesen novel, and I'll admit that I would like to re-read this book in the near future. Other nit-picky notes... At times I did have trouble keeping up with who was who, as far as the newly introduced Retinyan characters were concerned, mainly because their introductions were almost too swift at times and lacked a thorough background or explanation as to who they were. There were a few grammatical errors, and some uses of the wrong tense/spelling of a word was used once or twice. I’m recommending this book… If you are a fan of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Patterson, The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis then you might just enjoy being swept away into the Fantasy World of Retinya with Chloe and Nick. *I received this book free through Charleen Famiglietti of DJC Communications/Zondervan for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views and opinions freely expressed in this post are my own.