Author: Doug TenNapel
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Reading copy via local library
Ever since I heard Doug TenNapel speak about Cardboard at the ALA conference last summer, I've been dying to read this graphic novel.
I ordered it for the library and devoured it as soon as I could (yeah, I'm a little behind on my book reviews). Cardboard begins with a down-out-and-out dad who doesn't have the money to buy his son, Cam, a birthday present. Cam's mom has recently passed away, and dad feels like a total failure.
When the dad comes across a mysterious street vendor willing to sell him -- for the last bits of change in his pocket -- a magical cardboard box, the dad is skeptical. But the dad is good with his hands and figures he and Cam can make something cool out of it.
Yes, the cardboard box is magical. Yes, they do make something cool out of it. Yes, it does go all horribly wrong.
This is a great graphic novel for kids and parents. What's unusual is that the main POV is the dad, rather than Cam. There's also a bully-next-door who has a major character arc. Cam is a supporting character for both the dad and the bully rather the main focus, but the different character arcs dovetail together to make a compelling, cohesive story.
With beautiful, full-color artwork, all the characters are distinct and the world-building is inventive.
I highly recommend Cardboard to all graphic novel readers, young or old.