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The Boy of a Thousand Faces

Last updated Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Author: Brian Selznick
Illustrator: Brian Selznick
Date of Publication: 2001
ISBN: 0613441915
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2013

Synopsis: From
Alonzo King dreams of being known as The Boy of a Thousand Faces after his hero, Lon Chaney, late star of horror films. Alone in his room he transforms his face with makeup and tape, and then takes pictures with a Polaroid. In a town of nonbelievers, Alonzo is an expert on monsters, vampires, and assorted ghouls. One year, as Halloween approaches (as does Alonzo's 10th birthday), rumors of a mysterious beast start circulating, and suddenly Alonzo's grisly expertise is in great demand. But who--or what--is this horrible beast that crushes gladiolas in the night and leaves claw prints on cars? And will Alonzo's wish for fame and understanding from his friends and neighbors ever come true?

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How would it be possible for a boy to have a "thousand" faces?

•  basement - room or enclosed space underneath a house
•  Loch Ness monster - a large aquatic animal supposed to resemble a big serpent of Loch Ness in Scotland
•  corpse - a dead body
•  transform - to change markedly the appearance or look of
•  fossils - a remnant or trace of an organism of a past geologic age, such as a skeleton or leaf imprint, embedded and preserved in the earth's crust
•  Polaroid camera - old type of camera that prints each picture taken

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever written a letter to someone on TV?
•  Do you have a favorite scary character from movies or books?
•  Who is the beast?
•  What was Alonzo's wish? Did he get his wish?
•  Have you ever had a wish come true? Did the results turn out differently than you expected?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw sketches of yourself wearing different costumes &/or masks.
•  Make a mask, such as "Phantom of the Opera" or other.

Special activities:
•  Have a little math quiz. If Alonzo took a picture of himself every day, about how many years would it take to make one thousand? How many months?

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!