Cardboard

2012
Cardboard

I found this book on a table near the new book shelves at the library.  I picked it up in order to put it back on the shelf, but the cover caught my eye.  I peeked inside, and before I knew it, I was off on an adventure complete with danger, magic, aliens, robots, monsters, mutants, battles, humor, and a tiny bit of romance (but not too much).

Out of work and luck, widower Mike can't afford more than an empty cardboard box for his son Cam's birthday present.  Despite jeers from spoiled, creepy neighbor Marcus, Mike brings it home with an invitation to help Cam make something cool out of it.  But they soon discover that this is no ordinary cardboard.  And it doesn’t take long for Marcus to learn their secret.   What will Marcus do with his newfound knowledge?  What does Old Man Gideon know about the magical powers the cardboard possesses?  Will Mike and Cam be able to gain control of the situation they have unwittingly unleashed?

While the emphasis is on the action, the subplots of the relationships of Cam and his dad, their neighbors and each other give the story warmth, dimension and believability. TenNapel adeptly uses both intricate lines and high contrast in his inking (as well as just the right amount of color), to create many moods, from dramatic to comic, from realistic to fantastical.  The themes of using imagination and originality, and separating fantasy from reality, may spark a discussion among those who wish it.  But the fast moving, action-packed plot and illustrations make it ideal for someone looking for a fast but good read.  It may also inspire a cardboard craft project!

Readers who enjoy Cardboard will no doubt enjoy Tommysaurus Rex, the latest graphic novel by this author/artist.

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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