Reviews for Cardboard

Booklist Reviews 2012 March #2
With Ghostopolis (2010), Bad Island (2011), and the very recent Ratfist (2011) still practically hot out of the oven, TenNapel has hit a prolific stride, turning out stories featuring whacked-out science, organic weirdness, and a hefty emotional heart. Here a jobless father gives his son the only birthday gift he can afford in this crushing economy: a cardboard box. However, the two make a cardboard figure (of a boxer, naturally) and find themselves with a brand-new, living, breathing, cardboard friend. Unfortunately, when the petulant and jealous kid next door sees what's going on and steals some of the cardboard, the entire neighborhood is soon threatened by an invasion of handmade monstrosities. TenNapel's cartoon-gritty linework and off-kilter faces offer strangeness that is by turns endearing and disconcerting. His writing, meanwhile, hits some emotionally facile notes and fails to deliver on a few portentous plot points. But he also provides moments of great sweetness and heaps and heaps of bizarre fun, a quality that has become his veritable trademark. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Cam Howerton's out-of-work father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday. "Worst present in the history of birthdays," thinks Mr. Howerton, but the box becomes a father-son project as Golem-like "Boxer Bill," created from inanimate material, comes alive. Philosophical musings give way to full-blown action that will grab the attention of graphic novel fans and video-game aficionados. A boldly imaginative and ambitious tale.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
Cam Howerton's out-of-work father is so broke, the best he can do for Cam's birthday is an empty cardboard box purchased from a toy seller with two mysterious rules: return every unused scrap of cardboard and don't ask for any more. "Worst present in the history of birthdays," thinks Mr. Howerton, but the box becomes a project. What should father and son make out of the box? "A boxer," Cam suggests. So, as with Rabbi Loew's golem in sixteenth-century Prague or David Almond's Clay, "Boxer Bill," created from inanimate material, comes alive. Unfortunately, Marcus, the neighborhood bully, gets wind of the cardboard man, steals the scrap materials, and begins turning out a whole evil empire of cardboard monsters. He expects to lead these loyal minions, but after losing control of them he must unite with Cam and his father to defeat the massive cardboard army. The graphic novel format, with its dynamic panels and fast pacing, is a perfect vehicle for this tale. Early on, big questions are raised about what it means to be a man, what makes a good man, and what forms people's character. Such philosophical musings give way to full-blown action that will grab the attention of graphic novel fans and video-game aficionados. A boldly imaginative and ambitious tale. dean schneider

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 May #2

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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

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

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