5.0 4
by Doug Tennapel

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When cardboard creatures come magically to life, a boy must save his town from disaster.

Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it's the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus,

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When cardboard creatures come magically to life, a boy must save his town from disaster.

Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it's the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This graphic novel tries to be about magic and goodness, but instead gets bogged down with creepy drawings, unfair stereotypes, and obnoxiously flat characters. Mike is unable to afford anything good for son Cam’s birthday, so he buys the boy only a cardboard box. They turn the cardboard into the shape of a man, only to have it come alive. Danger comes from Marcus, a boy readers are repeatedly told is rich, though apparently his parents can’t afford a dentist, and drawings concentrate on his bad teeth as if they’re a character flaw. Marcus wants the magical cardboard properties to himself because, well, he’s bad. Characters are shown, and drawn, as good or bad. The author also has a problem with people driving hybrids or boys having long hair. What could have been a fun fantasy tale often turns preachy, and it belittles people who look different. The story tries to add depth with the trope of a dead mother, but that theme doesn’t rescue it from occasional self-righteousness. Ages 10�14. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
When Mike is looking for work, he comes across a toy salesman named Gideon. Mike cannot afford to buy his son a birthday present so Gideon says he has a perfect gift for him as long as Mike's son is a really good kid. He hands him an empty box and says it is just not an ordinary box, but rather a father and son project. He also gives him some rules and stresses that the rules cannot be broken. When he gives it to his son Cam, Cam is a very good sport about it and says that he would enjoy making something out of it with his father. They make a "man" out of the cardboard who comes to life after some of the rules given by Gideon are broken. The Cardboard has special power which can be used for good or evil. By breaking the rules, a whole new power struggle begins. The illustrations are terrific. Graphic novels are perfect for a struggling reader as well as even nonreaders. This story is more for an older child as it deals with some tough topics such as the death of the mother and a father struggling to put food on the table. The book is well written, thought provoking and sends the message that bad people can change for the good. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
School Library Journal
Gr 4�6—Cam's unemployed father can only afford a cardboard box for his son's birthday present. However, this cardboard is special: it animates itself. A cardboard boxer becomes a man called Bill, a magic cardboard machine actually spits out new pieces of magic cardboard, and a figure of Cam's dead mother chastises his father for not moving on. This cardboard powerfully projects the thoughts and desires of its users and becomes dangerous when Cam's wealthy, spoiled neighbor, Marcus, uses it to create an army of monsters. Rich colors printed on glossy pages, along with dramatic cuts between panels, give the comic a cinematic feel, and the illustrations' sharp angles and sinewy lines are striking. This action-filled adventure is not only highly entertaining, but also contains provocative points about the power of imagination. The ending, in which a reformed Marcus has shed his goth stylings and Cam's father has found a job and a girlfriend, is a little too tidy, but this is a thoughtful and gripping read.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
VOYA - Kristin Fletcher-Spear
For his son, Cam's, birthday, Mike picks up a cardboard box from an old man on the side of the road. He knows it is the worst birthday present ever, but being out of work limits his ability to provide. Cam makes the best of it when he and his dad make a champion boxer out of it. Once finished, the cardboard boxer comes to life. When a neighbor steals the rest of the cardboard and creates an army of evil monsters from his imagination, it will be up to Mike, Cam, and Bill the boxer have to save the neighborhood from the cardboard world that is threatening to take them over. Tennapel has consistently provided quality stand-alone graphic novels and this one is no exception. While the full-color story has depth which may pass over the heads of the younger readers—such as Mike's struggle to move on from his wife's passing—it has a fabulous fantasy adventure story that will appeal to many types of readers. Tennapel's graphic novels cross over the age range of tween and teen readers and fill a needed hole in tween graphic novel collections. Reviewer: Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Kirkus Reviews
An out-of-the-box story of golems, guys and guts. Though dealing with the recent death of his mother, Cam and his father are trying to make the best of a difficult time. Currently unemployed and virtually penniless, Cam's father buys him the only birthday present he can afford: a cardboard box. From the get-go, it is apparent that this is no ordinary cardboard: It comes with a list of rules, which Cam's father casually dismisses. In an attempt to make the bland box more exciting, his father fashions a cardboard man, a boxer he names Bill, who undergoes a Pinocchiolike transformation and becomes a loyal friend. The animated man catches the interest of menacing Marcus, a well-off, wide-eyed, fish-lipped bully, who steals the cardboard for his own malicious intent. When Marcus' plans go horribly, terribly awry, he discovers that he needs one thing that money can't buy: a friend to help him. TenNapel's story is edge-of-your-seat exciting, but what really drives home this clever outing are the added complexities and thought-provoking questions it asks of its reader, specifically examining what constitutes "good" and "bad," and how to change how one is labeled. The result? An exceptionally seamless blend of action and philosophy, two elements that usually do not mix easily; TenNapel handles this masterfully. Utterly brilliant. (Graphic fantasy. 10 & up)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Doug TenNapel was raised in the town of Denair, California. In 1994, he created Earthworm Jim, a character who would go on to star in video games, toy lines, and cartoon series. Doug is an Eisner award-winning artist, and his first graphic novel for Scholastic, GHOSTOPOLIS, is a 2011 ALA Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens. His most recent graphic novel from Scholastic, BAD ISLAND, has been published to critical acclaim. Doug lives in Glendale, California, with his wife and four children.

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Cardboard 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Misha2219 More than 1 year ago
Purchased for my 10 year old son per his request. He read it in two days. Loved that he enjoys reading. I know that this is a book the school library recommended for his grade to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was such a great book. I was so caught up in it I read it in three hours!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago