word craft


Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?

Who Was That Masked Man Anyway?

Scholas­tic, 1992

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audio book nar­rat­ed by 
Jeff Woodman

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What’s this book about?

A fun­ny, his­tor­i­cal nov­el that is vir­tu­al­ly all dia­logue. It’s the spring of 1945 in Brook­lyn, and Frankie and Mario—inspired by the hero­ics of the Lone Ranger, the Green Hor­net, and the Shad­ow, among others—set out to right the wrongs of their world. And no one can escape being part of their hilar­i­ous adventures.


Book Extensions
  • Try read­ing por­tions of the book out loud in class as a radio play. We sug­gest Episode 3 or Episode 11 as a place to start.
  • Exam­ine how dia­logue in a book is dif­fer­ent from every­day dia­logue. Here’s an arti­cle by Avi to get you started.
  • Watch Empire of the Air: the Men Who Made Radio, a Ken Burns doc­u­men­tary, on PBS Online.
  • Search for “old time radio” and you’ll find many sites with free radio shows.
  • Chal­lenge your stu­dents to write an ongo­ing radio ser­i­al, with speak­ing parts for every­one in the class. This can engage stu­dents in writ­ing, research, revi­sion, infor­ma­tion text, his­to­ry, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and speech.
Selected Bibliography for Further Study
  • The Great Amer­i­can Broad­cast: a Cel­e­bra­tion of Radio’s Gold­en Age, Leonard Maltin, New Amer­i­can Library, 1997
  • “Head Back to the Past with Old-Time Radio: 6 Shows to Lis­ten to,” Bar­ry Your­grau, The New York Times, 20 Feb­ru­ary 2021.
  • On the Air: the Ency­clo­pe­dia of Old-Time Radio, John Dun­ning, New York: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1998.
  • Raised on Radio, Ger­ald Nach­man, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 1998.
  • Radio Days, a film direct­ed by Woody Allen, Ori­on Pic­tures, 1987.
  • Remem­ber­ing Radio: an Oral His­to­ry of Old-Time Radio, David S. Siegel, Bear­Manor Media, 2010.
  • Romance of Radio,” an essay from Empire of the Air: the Men Who Made Radio, Ken Burns, PBS, 2004.
  • War of the Worlds: Mer­cury The­ater on the Air, Orson Welles’ radio broad­cast from Octo­ber 30, 1938, which famous­ly caused a nation­al pan­ic. This is 57 min­utes long, an audio ver­sion, which is made avail­able by Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty Bloomington.

Story Behind the Story

It will no doubt date me when I reveal that one of the key influ­ences on my writ­ing life was radio.  I am not ref­er­enc­ing music here, but radio dra­ma, in par­tic­u­lar those shows sent out over the air­waves (as they were called) to young peo­ple like me.

If I was home sick there were the soap operas such as The Guid­ing Light.  Far bet­ter were shows (start­ing at 5 PM) like Jack Arm­strongSuper­manSky King, In the evening, The Lone Ranger and The Green Hor­netThe Shad­owSus­pense.  The com­e­dy of The Jack Ben­ny Show. There also was Edward R. Murrow’s You Are There. These were his­tor­i­cal reen­act­ments of great moments of his­to­ry, as if report­ed by the mod­ern news­men. “Richard the Third is now rid­ing down Bosworth hill. He has been cut off from his own sol­diers. Hen­ry Tudor’s sol­diers are sur­round­ing him! Great Scott, the king … . ” Great stuff.

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Awards and Recognition

  • ALA Notable, 1993
  • Book­list Edi­tors’ Choice, 1992
  • School Library Jour­nal Best Books of 1992
  • Amer­i­can Book­seller Pick of the List, 1993
  • New York Pub­lic Library, One Hun­dred Titles for Read­ing and Shar­ing, 1992
  • Starred Review, Book­list, 1992
  • Point­ed Review, Kirkus Reviews, 1992
  • Starred Review, Bul­letin for the Cen­ter of Chil­dren’s Books, 1992
  • Starred Review, School Library Jour­nal, 1992


“Avi’s pulled off anoth­er coup! This author must delight in accom­plish­ing the impos­si­ble. This time he’s writ­ten an entire nov­el in con­ver­sa­tion, includ­ing the title … In the process we are not only enter­tained but learn about the social con­ven­tions of the day, reac­tions to WWII and get insight into Frankie’s sol­dier broth­er’s response to war and hero­ism. A read-aloud must!” (Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture)

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if you liked this book, try: