It’s Cam’s birthday, but his father has no money to buy him a present. He ends up bringing him home a cardboard box, hoping that Cam will enjoy building something with it. Cam excitedly asks to construct a boxer, with big red gloves and all. Cam realizes how great his present really is when his boxer named Bill comes to life! They even figured out how to produce more magic cardboard, to make more beings. Then things get sticky when his bullying neighbor, Marcus, catches wind of this magic cardboard. Marcus somehow manages to steal the magic cardboard maker, and begins to build his own diabolical underground cardboard world full of monsters! Can Cam and Bill stop the monsters before they infiltrate the above ground world?
I really enjoyed this book. The illustrations were pretty neat, although they could be a bit scary for the younger readers. They also seemed to be a bit monotonous in their coloring, but what else can you expect in a book titled Cardboard? I thought this was a pretty creative endeavor, that seemed to have good underlying themes and messages. I like that it addressed bullying as well as poverty. It seemed to demonstrate that bad things can happen, without sucking the hope out of children everywhere. Cam and his dad are also grappling with the incredibly hard loss of his mother/wife. While we all realize that this hurt doesn’t go away, it shows that there are positive ways that we can deal with the pain of losing someone. I felt like this book accomplished the task of being funny, imaginative, a little scary, and fairly personal. I will definitely put TenNapel’s other graphic novels on my list.