Reviews for Boy of a Thousand Faces


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 September 2000
Gr. 4^-7. Born on Halloween, 10-year-old Alonzo King believes in the unbelievable. Inspired by the late movie star and makeup master Lon Chaney, Alonzo dreams of being "The Boy of a Thousand Faces." With a little paint and a lot of imagination, he transforms himself into monsters and memorializes his guises with his mom's Polaroid camera. After his friend Mr. Blake gives him stamps commemorating famous horror movies, Alonzo decides to mail a photo of his scariest face to his hero, the masked Mr. Shadows, host of the TV horror show Monsters at Midnight. Nothing happens for awhile. Then The Beast comes to town, and monster expert Alonzo is the only one who can solve the mystery of the dark, lurking presence. Selznick's low-key but engaging story and his witty, eye-popping, black-and-white illustrations (including cinematic close-ups of the characters), combine to serve up a splendid celebration of the mysterious power of the imagination--for Halloween and all year round. --Michael Cart Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
Dramatic black-and-white pencil drawings, which are often (appropriately enough) close-ups of faces, generate a deliciously eerie atmosphere for this story about a monster-movie-obsessed boy who lives ""in a town where no one believed in monsters."" Unfortunately, the plot is more convoluted and contrived than spooky as it reveals how the boy and a mysterious neighbor turn their fellow citizens into believers. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 July #1
Selznick (Barnyard Prayers, p. 120, etc.) illustrates this beguiling tale of a monster-mad lad with a mix of lurid film stills and masterfully rendered, dramatically under-lit portraits in pencil. Inspired by the classic movies of horrormeister Lon Chaney, Halloween-born fifth grader Alonzo so yearns to be known as "The Boy Of A Thousand Faces" that he's compiling a photo album of self-portraits in monster makeup. In the end his dream comes true, in a way, after vague but chilling rumors of a strange beast in town propel Alonzo to instant notoriety as a monster expert and one of his Polaroids is printed in the newspaper as a purported picture of the prowler. This inspires nearly every local trick-or-treater to dress as a monster come Halloween. Who is responsible for this amazing happening? Ah, only the Shadow knows. Readers will practically hear the sinister organ music rising behind this tribute to the ghoulish delights of monster mania and those old black and white screamers--the cover and the interiorillustrations guarantee a ready-made audience. Nicely done. (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 August #2
Selznick's (The Houdini Box) offbeat tale introduces Alonzo King, a boy who has a Halloween birthday, an imagination on overdrive and an obsessive love of monsters. The 10-year-old's heroes are Mr. Shadows, the host of a late-night TV show that airs classic horror movies, and Lon Chaney, "an incredible actor... who was called `The Man of a Thousand Faces.'" Alonzo's goal is to be "The Boy of a Thousand Faces" and to that end he spends a good deal of time transforming his face with paint, makeup and tape so as to mimic some of the spooky countenances he has viewed in frightening flicks. As Halloween approaches, stories circulate about The Beast, an elusive monster that is allegedly stalking the town, and Alonzo becomes a self-described "expert" on the creature. Given the dramatic buildup concerning The Beast, kids are likely to be disappointed with the story's anticlimactic resolution. Interspersed with several photos and film stills, Selznick's closely focused, black-and-white illustrations are more impressive than his narrative. Characteristically detailed and moodily lit, at their best they approximate the pleasurable melodramas of the scary movies Alonzo so enjoys. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 September #4
A 10-year-old boy born on Halloween has an imagination on overdrive and an obsessive love of monsters. "Characteristically detailed and moodily lit, Selznick's closely focused drawings approximate the pleasurable melodramas of the scary movies the hero so enjoys," said PW. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 September
Gr 2-5-Selznick has his finger on the pulse of kids and what they love. Alonzo, almost 11 and obsessed with horror movies, faithfully watches Monsters at Midnight on Channel 37, which broadcasts such reruns as Frankenstein, Dracula, and Phantom of the Opera, hosted by Mr. Shadows, who has become the boy's idol. The young protagonist secretly makes up his face to capture the look of some of the scariest of these fictional monsters, and keeps a Polaroid snapshot of each of his creations. His goal is to create 1000 different visages, inspired by the legendary Lon Chaney, "The Man of a Thousand Faces." Without giving away the very soul of the story, suffice it to say that the boy finds out the surprising true identity of Mr. Shadows and has a thrilling Halloween. Selznick's realistic pencil drawings of close-up faces, from Alonzo's extraordinary made-up monsters to the kindly Mr. Shadows, are expressive and suit the story's mood. This suspenseful book is a fine read-aloud and an excellent choice for reluctant readers.-Barbara Buckley, Rock- ville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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