A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cardboard is a fabulous graphic novel with lots of action sequences, a vicious bully, and references to a mother's death. The somber tone throughout much of the story may not work for all kids, and there are hints of edgier topics like unemployment, loneliness, and adult romance, but most kids will glaze over these issues and focus on the wild images and fantastic idea of building living creatures out of cardboard.
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What's the story?
Broke and unemployed carpenter Mike brings home the \"worst present in the history of birthdays\" to his son Cam -- a giant CARDBOARD box. After son and father work together to build a boxer named Bill out of the cardboard, they are surprised to find that he comes alive. Soon Cam is building all sorts of tiny creatures out of the scraps, even a model of his deceased mother. But when the neighborhood bully -- a spoiled rich kid -- finds out that Cam has a cooler toy than he has, he steals the cardboard away and ends up building himself into a major mess. He'll need forgiveness from Cam and the power of Mike and Bill to rescue him.
Is it any good?
At times poignant and sweet, Cardboard is mostly packed with action that's highlighted by TenNapel's cartoony illustrations. Eyes bulge, fists loom large, and sound effects go "crash!" and "boom!" and "pow!" Even with the specter of a deceased mom and an unemployed dad, kids will revel in the fantasy of creatures made out of cardboard who come to life.
The villain, Marcus, who resembles the toy-torturing neighbor of the first Toy Story movie, is incredibly mean and rude. But as his mean creations rise up to destroy him, he looks deep within his psyche, confronts his flaws, and with the help of Cam's friendship, finds redemption. The interactions between fathers and sons are especially tender, and will have a deeper meaning for adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullies. What are some of the reasons Marcus is a bully? Do you think these reasons are true for all bullies? How do you handle someone who is teasing or bothering you or a friend?
Find a cardboard box and make something. What supplies do you need? What will you build?
What makes a graphic novel different from a regular novel? A comic book? Find a few other graphic novels to read and compare them with this one.
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