Even in our screen-dominant age, the arrival of a big cardboard box can still be momentous for a kid. For George, a washing machine box with hand-drawn button controls becomes a combination transporter, transmogrifier, and (most important) a refuge from his bratty younger brothers—until, of course, he realizes their value as playmates. Making his picture book debut, Zuppardi, whose exuberantly scrawled pencil line and variegated palette is reminiscent of David Shannon, finds a rich source of inspiration in cardboard, painting and manipulating it to create George’s pretend adventures. A ride on a scream-worthy rollercoaster made from looped and twisted cardboard leads to a rocket ship zooming through a mini-galaxy, which in turn becomes a swashbuckling scene on the high seas, with spirals of corrugated material forming the cresting, churning waves. Although the text doesn’t come close to the originality of the visuals (“Nowhere was amazing! Nowhere was magnificent! Nowhere was stupendous!”), readers probably won’t notice. They’ll be too busy asking their grownups, “Don’t we need a new refrigerator or something?” Ages 4–8. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Zuppardi’s art, done in mixed media, is the perfect complement to a tale about young boys and imagination. His rough, sketchy style..., bright palette and prominent use of cut, torn and colored cardboard gives readers a kid’s perspective and makes it seem as if this truly is the siblings’ story. ... George shows readers how imagination (and a few simple household items) can transport them to another world…and the ties that will bring them home.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The artwork is sophisticated in its two-dimensional, contoured comic style as well as in the materials it utilizes. ... The discovery of the need for playing together balanced with the need to be alone and the role of the imagination in navigating these important social poles speaks to kids of a variety of ages
—School Library Journal
George’s plight will be familiar to kids dealing with exasperating brothers and sisters or a budding sense of introversion, and his isolationist escapism is treated both gently and enthusiastically. Zuppardi’s untidy illustrations in acrylic and pencil are kid-inspired with their scratchy, repeated outlines and thick, unevenly applied coloration; cardboard is used in the presentation of George’s imagined worlds in Nowhere, giving the pictures a rough, three-dimensional whimsy and providing a clever nod to the box itself. George—whose red striped shirt and boxy imagination are reminiscent of Watterson’s Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes in iconicity if not in nature—and his brothers are little more than glorified stick figures with huge heads, yet just a few facial details allows them to be strikingly expressive. Bound to appeal to a wide range of kids because of its celebration of both collaborative and solitary play, this could be used in a storytime about siblings or imagination...
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Making his picture book debut, Zuppardi, whose exuberantly scrawled pencil line and variegated palette is reminiscent of David Shannon, finds a rich source of inspiration in cardboard, painting and manipulating it to create George’s pretend adventures.
Though Nowhere starts as vast blank space, once George overturns his box, out tumble beautifully animated, page-filling illustrations made out of painted and torn cardboard. ... Zuppardi’s expressive and playful illustrations are a delight to behold.
[A]n invigorating tribute to the power of a child’s imagination. ... Zuppardi’s loose, energetic lines and primarily full-bleed spreads bring us George’s highs and lows — his manic glee in escaping his siblings and, when the book opens, his despair at their intrusions. There’s a certain level of hyperbole at work here that is very funny.
—BookPage Children's Corner
There are countless children’s books about the power of the imagination, but few are as pitch- perfect as The Nowhere Box. There are several pages that stop the reader dead in his or her tracks as Zuppardi’s illustrations pour over the page.
—The Atlantic Wire
The natural cycle of an older brother's exasperation, longing for solitude and eventual return to the cheery noise of his brothers plays out in a funny fashion in Sam Zuppardi's 'The Nowhere Box'... The young reader will cheer for George but also feel a pang for the boys he left behind. ... [An] exuberantly illustrated picture book.
—The Wall Street Journal
PreS-Gr 2—George has a little brother and an "even littler brother" and the tension with his siblings-which starts on the endpapers-is mounting. One of the little guys inadvertently knocks down his castle while the other derails his train. "George had had enough," and readers can see his frustration etched in a penciled scribble above his grimaced teeth while he tries to hide from their omnipresence. As they chase him in pursuit of play, they ask where he's going and he cries out, "Nowhere! And you can't follow me!" The artwork is sophisticated in its two-dimensional, contoured comic style as well as in the materials it utilizes. Speech bubbles made with notebook paper and torn cardboard pieces create painted collages full of movement and texture. Scratchy, heavy pencil lines balanced with bold and thin acrylic paint create richly expressive characters. When George finds the washing-machine box, he creates a getaway machine and travels to "Nowhere." He expresses his zeal with a flood of adjectives, yet despite his initial glee, he remembers the home button he drew on the dashboard. The discovery of the need for playing together balanced with the need to be alone and the role of the imagination in navigating these important social poles speaks to kids of a variety of ages. Pair this story with Matthew Cordell's Another Brother (Feiwel & Friends, 2012).—Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City
Annoying siblings drive an imaginative young boy to "Nowhere," but loneliness and a lack of good villains draw him home. George's two little brothers, unnamed Everysiblings, are gleefully wrecking his imaginative play, destroying and toppling with abandon. Worse, George has no place he can get away from them. Finally, he answers their "Where are you going?" with "Nowhere," and the box from the washing machine (and a marker and scissors) will help him get there. Climbing in, with helmet, goggles and flashlight, he pushes a button and arrives in Nowhere--a "vast and empty" place. But by upending his box, he spills out all sorts of building materials to fuel his exuberant adventures; meanwhile, his brothers search the house for him. But in Nowhere, without dragons and pirates to fight, the novelty of being alone soon wears off, no matter the loopy roller coaster or cool rocket, and George heads home to a joyful sibling reunion. Zuppardi's art, done in mixed media, is the perfect complement to a tale about young boys and imagination. His rough, sketchy style (people are little more than stick figures with big heads), bright palette and prominent use of cut, torn and colored cardboard give readers a kid's perspective and makes it seem as if this truly is the siblings' story. While the parallels to Max are obvious, George shows readers how imagination (and a few simple household items) can transport them to another world…and the ties that will bring them home. (Picture book. 4-8)