Review: Cardboard by Doug TenNapel


Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

What’s the worst birthday present ever?  It just might be the cardboard box that Cam’s father had to give him.  Cam’s dad can’t find work, his mother is dead, and his family is falling apart.  But Cam is still optimistic about the fun the two of them can have together building things from cardboard.  Little does he know that the cardboard things they create are about to come to life!  There are rules that come with the magical cardboard.  Gather all of the scraps that are unused and return them to the man who gave Cam’s dad the cardboard.  Unfortunately, the local bully finds out that Cam has something worth taking away and starts to create an army of cardboard monsters.  What will it take for Cam and his dad to fix the misuse of magical cardboard?

TenNapel’s graphic novel is pure maniacal genius.  He takes a universal thing like playing with cardboard and makes it first pure magic and then dark and sinister.  He also carries the story to the extreme, refusing to back away and take an easier approach.  It makes for a riveting graphic novel that will have plenty of kid-appeal.  My only quibble is that the side story of the father’s romantic interest in the neighbor lady does not add to the story.

Because I am reviewing an advanced copy of the book, I don’t have it in the full color throughout.  The pages I do have are a mix of sandy tan, zips of red, deep purples with plenty of shadows in black.  He plays with angles and points of view, creating an entire world of cardboard before he is finished. 

This is a darker comic for kids, something that children will appreciate and gobble up.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Review: Lucy Can’t Sleep by Amy Schwartz

lucy cant sleep

Lucy Can’t Sleep by Amy Schwartz

Lucy is in bed, but she just can’t fall asleep.  First, she tries counting sheep and other animals, but that doesn’t work.  So she climbs out of bed, puts on a sweater, stretches and wiggles.  Then she heads out of her room to try and find her doll and bear.  There they are in a chair downstairs.  Lucy then heads to the kitchen and rummages in the fridge for a snack.  She finds chocolate pudding and strawberry shortcake.  Everything is very quiet in her house.  Outside there is a squeaky door, a porch swing, and a radio playing.  Then Lucy’s dog appears and they head inside.  But Lucy isn’t quite ready for bed yet.

There is something old-fashioned and infinitely gentle about this book.  Lucy’s parents never awaken to find her out of bed, instead she putters around on her own with no fear of the dark, of the quiet or of being alone.  There is a great feeling of safety in this book with nothing startling or alarming in the least.  It is a welcome difference from many picture books.

Schwartz’s writing is done in stanzas with repetition and rhythm making it into a poem.  This makes it a great book for toddlers.  Her art is filled with small details of Lucy’s life and home.  It is all about warmth, familiarity and the small touches that mark a family’s life. 

Safe, sweet nighttime adventures will have young listeners enjoying Lucy and her escapades out of bed.  It will also make a nice addition to bedtime stories and story times.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.