Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,876 ratings  ·  465 reviews
When cardboard creatures come magically to life, a boy must save his town from disaster.

Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it's the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus, warps the...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by GRAPHIX
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cardboard, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cardboard

Smile by Raina TelgemeierThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian SelznickBone, Vol. 1 by Jeff SmithDiary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff KinneyAmulet, Vol. 1 by Kazu Kibuishi
Best Graphic Novels for Children
71st out of 531 books — 614 voters
Personal Demons by Nimue BrownCardboard by Doug TenNapelFriends with Boys by Faith Erin HicksA Wrinkle in Time by Hope LarsonSteve Jobs by Jason Quinn
Great Graphic Novels 2013
2nd out of 22 books — 14 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

Every page in Doug TenNapel’s Cardboard pops to life with color, action, imagination, and heart!

Cam and his Dad are going through a rough time. Both trying to find a way to live without Cam’s mother. Loneliness, grief, and fear show up throughout the story in heartbreaking quiet ways and not so subtle ways. Add no job, financial woes, bully troubles, and a birthday—well these guys have their hands full! Cam’s father needs a miracle or a bit of magic to afford a gift for his son’s birthday. And m...more
Charles Hatfield
I'd say Doug TenNapel is a sure bet: everything I've read by him (admittedly only a sliver of everything he's done) is smart, brisk, accessible, and graced with enticing high concepts and obvious emotional hooks. He cartoons with brio, he's prolific and seemingly always on full boil (what, about a graphic novel a year?), and so I have to believe he loves his work. Cardboard, a broad, eager, winning fantasy, is his latest, and takes off like a rocket from a simple, tantalizing premise: a widower...more
Mrs W
Mar 05, 2013 Mrs W rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Mike is an out-of-work carpenter and a widower with a young teen son, Cam. When Mike can’t afford a birthday present for Cam, he encounters a strange toy salesman who offers him a cardboard box for under a dollar. The man gives Mike some rules: he has to return any unused cardboard and he can’t have more.

Mike and Cam make a boxer out of the cardboard, and the boxer comes to life. “Bill” and Cam are fast friends, but when Cam’s wealthy and mean-spirited neighbor Marcus decides he wants magic card...more
Robert Greenberger
From my ComicMix review:

I find Doug TenNapel a maddeningly inconsistent storyteller. He goes from the wonderful Ghostopolis to the disappointing Bad Island while delivering inventive graphics aided with strong color. Now we have Cardboard, which starts off with such promise and right around the halfway mark things spiral entirely out of control and become way too over the top.

Mike is an independent carpenter who recently lost his wife and the sour economy means he’s inching towards bankruptcy. W...more
Cardboard is one of those books which will probably divide readers (particularly adult readers) in the same way that evolving language divides linguists into prescriptivists and descriptivists. Sure, it's not my cup of tea (after one image early in the book, I will do my best to never, ever, ever get pink eye ... and quite possibly to stop reading while eating), and I felt some of the Life Lessons of the book were simultaneously too heavy-handed and too blithe. Yet that first complaint is irrele...more
Paul  Hankins
Here's a graphic novel you'll want to recommend to your middle grade/young adult readers as part of a 40 Book Reading Invitation.

Inventive look at life, death, loss, and grieving.

This graphic novel reads like Gremlins meets UPS. And I love it.

When an out of work widow goes to find his son a birthday present with his last seventy-eight cents, a mysterious man has just the gift--a cardboard box. But this box comes with certain rules. And these rules need to be followed lest the world fall into co...more
Doug TenNapel

I enjoyed Cardboard for two reasons. It was face-paced (as any graphic novel, I suppose) and creative. I usually do not like graphic novels, but this one was okay. It was extremely creative and was fun to read. It encourages imagination and has a good "moral to the story."

The protagonist, Cam, is a young boy who receives from his father the worst birthday present. Together father and son create something out of nothing and go on an extraordinary adventure.

There are also s...more
Cam's father is not having an easy time--his wife has died, and he can't find any work to support himself and his son. With his last few coins, he buys Cam a cardboard box for his birthday, thinking they could make something out of it. The man who sells him the cardboard tells him there is a rule for using it, though--he must return all the scraps that he doesn't use. Cam and his father make a boxing man with the cardboard, then are stunned when he comes to life. Cam loves his protective new bud...more
A single father struggling to make ends meet buys a cardboard box from a strange vendor for his son's birthday. What he doesn't know is that the cardboard is enchanted. When he and his son, Cam, set to work to make a world-famous boxer they are surprised when it comes to life!

Marcus, the neighborhood bully, while he has anything a boy could ever want, is jealous of Cam's cardboard creation and devises a way to steal some of the cardboard for himself. When he uses the enchanted cardboard to brin...more
Some of you may remember we had a book from Doug TenNapel last year called Bad Island. This was my own very first venture into graphic novels, and with that book, I became a fan. I’ve also just learned that he is also a musician and an Eisner Award-winner artist. (The Eisner Award is given for creative achievement in American comic books, and is sometimes referred to as the Oscars of the comic book industry.)
Cardboard: like a zombie apocalypse, except with cardboard.
As far as stories go, this mi...more
Ashley D--
It's hard to review this book. The adventure part of the story was fine, and it was kind of interesting to read a comic with so many super-conservative messages in it. It was your typical set-up of a Really Good Guy just trying to Provide For His Family. The first thing you learn about the RGG is that he's too--I don't know--Republican or something to accept much-needed welfare to feed his son during the Hard Times (mancession?). Of course, there's some Marilyn Manson-loving freak who, in a comp...more
This graphic novel has a creative story line that will capture the imagination of kids. Cam's father is down on his luck and doesn't have much money for a birthday present for Cam. He runs into a vendor who offers a cardboard box. Cam's father knows that Cam is a good boy and will love whatever he gets. Cam and his father spend the night creating a boxer named Bill out of the cardboard. However, Cam's father forgot the 2 rules of the vendor: return any scrapes and he can't get any more cardboard...more
Selina Lock
Mike is trying his best to keep his head above water and provide for his son Cam, but there's not much carpentry work around. Desperate to buy Cam something for his birthday he stops off at a cheap toy stall and ends up buying a cardboard box. There are two rules that go with buying the cardboard - you have to tale all the scraps of cardboard back and you can't ask for any more cardboard.

Cam obviously thinks this is the worst birthday present ever, especially when spoilt, local bully Marcus rubs...more
I am not a huge reader of graphic novels, but I am coming to appreciate them more and more. Cardboard is, I think, an especially well done graphic novel. The illustrations are fantastic, and I love how they convey so much about the characters, what kind of person they are supposed to be, and what they are feeling at any given time. The book also deals with some complex issues; joblessness, loss, self-image, insecurity, love, among others. I think that any school age kid would enjoy the story. It...more
Down-on-his-luck dad Mike doesn't have enough money to buy his son Cam a birthday present, until he happens upon a mysterious toy seller who offers him a cardboard box for $.78--as long as he follows two simple rules. Of course, the rules get broken and chaos ensues, but, also of course, more than goes wrong with the cardboard comes right in the end.

I liked this one a lot--great illustrations, fun, interesting story, some amusing lines. There were a couple of things that irritated me (view spoi...more
It takes place in a small town. Ok so it's a boy name cam birthday and his father mike buys him a cardboard from a homeless person. It isn't just any cardboard it's magic. So there is this bully hue make fun of cam for his birthday present. So cam and his father mike make a cardboard person. The person comes to life and instantly cam and bob(the cardboard person) become best friends. So the bully finds cam with bob and wet bob so bob starts to fall apart. Then they take bob left over and make a...more
A quirky story about a dad and his son and a jerk neighbor boy. And cardboard.

Did not think I'd enjoy a book about magical cardboard.

I can just see Doug looking for ideas for his next book, and he flips through one of those plot-finder deck of cards you can get at Barnes and Noble or somewhere.

He shuffles the cards and the first one he selects is: cardboard.

Next one: birthday.

Another: unemployed dad who's trying to make it after his wife dies.

A character: pugilist.

Another character: manipu...more
Jul 09, 2013 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rebecca by: Mark Richardson (my brother)
Destruction by the thing the was meant to save... a theme well explored... but this time with magic cardboard.

TenNapel proves himself a gifted illustrator and a clever constructor of worlds. The protagonist was a bit one dimensional, but I am getting the sense that this is par for graphic novels. This genre seems to love the ultimate hero (especially the Y.A. stories).

A quick and fun read. The book was easily read by the twenty people we vacationed with this last week. It was reread by my sist...more
Jessica Manning
What a delightful read. Cardboard is a wonderful story about family, imagination, and the ability to overcome ones short comings. Doug TenNapel has created a magnificent piece of work that everyone can enjoy!
An out-of-work father is struggling to find work and, of all days, find some money to provide a birthday present for his son. He finds a seller of toys, but all he can afford is the one item offered by the seller - several sheets of cardboard.. But it comes with rules - you will get no extras, and you must bring any scraps back. The boy is delighted and together they set out to build a cardboard figure together. But it isn't regular cardboard, the figure comes alive. From there it just gets bett...more
What would you do with a magical cardboard machine that makes anything you want out of cardboard? Could things get out of hand? Doug TenNapel's graphic novel examines what the consequences are of having powers so omnipotent that things may just go awry. Themes of family, friendship, loss, greed, and determination drives the insanely quirky, fast paced narrative along with TenNapel's always clever dosage of humor and imaginative artwork. After reading this, you may not look at a cardboard box the...more
I like TenNapel's obsession with "creation" and what happens when you create things, and how that all obviously parallels Creation. I did think it unfortunate that the bad kid's becoming good coincided with becoming clean cut, but whatever. And personally I did like the stuff about Bill becoming real somehow; liked that it wasn't at all explained, and I liked the question of whether the things you create and give life to will find a place in Heaven. Nice stuff. Wish I'd found this kind of stuff...more
It's Cam's birthday and his father Mike has no gift to give and no prospect of finding employment. That's really what dad needs to turn his fortunes around after his wife died. With only a little change in his pocket, Can's father purchases a cardboard box from Mr. Gideon who has admonished the unemployed father: "Then you must give him what every son want's from his dad." And with that, Mr. Gideon hands over the cardboard box.

When he returns home and presents Cam with the box, the two begin to...more
Online Eccentric Librarian

More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian

More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog

Cardboard honestly left me a bit ambivalent. On the one hand, the art is fantastic - lovingly drawn in hues of brown and beige to represent the cardboard theme. But on the other hand, the messages are either dropped with blunt force or riddled with inconsistency. So while I enjoyed the book, I was also very frustrated by the story as well.

Story: Young boy Cam is a good kid whose family can't catch any luck. His father can...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I picked this book up at the library spontaneously, simply because the art style seemed fun, and the premise was intriguing. It was my first graphic novel by Doug TenNapel, and it was very interesting ride. I couldn't really get into the style right away, especially the design of the bully, but overall, the novel turned out to be surprisingly simultaneously straightforward and complex. What made this story different than I expected was simply the direction and tone it took.

It starts with a fath...more
The main characters in my story are Mike, Bill, Cam, Marcus, and Tina. I would recommend this book to young adults. The setting is in an urban area. The story starts out Mike is asking for some work because he has a hard time paying for the bills and providing for his son Cam. He’s trying really hard to get money because his son’s birthday is coming up and he wants to be able to buy him a good present but he has not had any luck getting a job. So on his way home he sees a man selling toys for ch...more
I really liked this book. It was well written for a graphic novel, and I have never been crazy for graphic novels. But this book got me stuck on this kind of book. cardboard is about a poor father Mike and his son Cam, who live by themselves after Cam's mother died. It begins with Mike trying to get a job as a carpenter to get money for his son's birthday, but nobody has a job for him. Mike begins to drive home realizing that he might not get money for his Cam's birthday after all.
But he sees a...more
Cardboard was a good book that is very easy to read and understand. You can sorta of relate to the main character of whats happening. Also it's basically a classic good vs bad situation bad person gets power and it gets out of control. It also has one of does typical bad guy turns good because he was just misunderstood things.
Cardboard is about a father who's been out of work and only has a little bit of money which he goes to spend on his son's Cam birthday. He ends up buying a cardboard box f...more
I liked this book a lot. The book is very easy to follow and understand. It’s for readers that like to see what is going on rather than having to imagine it, and this book does a great job of that. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy an easy story and like to physically see what is going on like I do. The only thing that I didn’t like was how the short comments go back and forth so weirdly but I got a hang of how to follow it after a while.
The main characters, Mike and Cam, are g...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
BYU-Adolescent Li...: Cardboard 1 1 May 26, 2014 01:47PM  
ENG 580 Spring 2014: Cardboard 1 1 May 06, 2014 03:18PM  
Book review. 1 2 Apr 15, 2014 06:25AM  
  • Bird & Squirrel on the Run
  • Giants Beware!
  • Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #2)
  • How Mirka Met a Meteorite (Hereville #2)
  • Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
  • Earthling!
  • The Secret of the Stone Frog
  • The Power of the Parasite (Squish, #3)
  • Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!
  • Bluffton
  • Monster on the Hill
  • Cow Boy A Boy and His Horse
  • Little White Duck : a childhood in China
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
  • Hades: Lord of the Dead (Olympians, #4)
  • Sidekicks
  • The Silver Six
  • Will & Whit
Ghostopolis Bad Island Creature Tech Tommysaurus Rex Iron West

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »