cover image The Boy of a Thousand Faces

The Boy of a Thousand Faces

Brian Selznick. HarperCollins, $14.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026265-5

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.)