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4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  8,703 Ratings  ·  778 Reviews
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 powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by GRAPHIX
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Popular Answered Questions

Lydia Bloxham probably transitions from Cam to Mike, but mostly just Cam. it kind of shows Marcus, but not that much.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ople Murphy It teaches that friends should stick by each other even when they make mistakes. It also teaches that you don't need to dwell on your past and that…moreIt teaches that friends should stick by each other even when they make mistakes. It also teaches that you don't need to dwell on your past and that people change.(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Melissa Chung
Jul 18, 2016 Melissa Chung rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars! It was great. I loved pretty much everything about it.

Cardboard is about a down in luck dad named Mike. His wife has passed away and he is trying to raise is son Cam all alone. He is also between jobs and no one is hiring. A sad start to any story. It's his sons birthday and he wants to buy him something great but he can't afford anything. Mike sees a stand on the side of the road selling cheap toys. The man, Mr. Gideon, learns that Mike's son Cam is a really good boy and so he sells Mi
Gyujin Lee
Charles Hatfield
Dec 01, 2012 Charles Hatfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2013 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jon M
Oct 30, 2014 Jon M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is about a carpenter and father, raising his young boy by himself, and struggling to provide for the both of them. He's looking for a birthday gift for his son and finds a man selling toys on the side of the road. He doesn't have much money, and buys a cardboard box, what the seller says is a great father-and-son project... but, there are two rules that come with buying this box. He has to give the scraps back and he can't ask for more.

So with the box, he and his son crafts a boxer, wh
Kent R.
Aug 17, 2016 Kent R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is great because I really liked how is written and the conflict that was made by the author.I really like how the dad got him a box and the son was fine with it and they made it into a boxer,after they slept the card board became alive and it was mesmerizing that he became alive i would recommend this to 8 graders and below because is a picture book and I don't think every one likes it.
Oct 20, 2016 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, it wasn't the best book I've read, but it was good. I have definitely read better Graphic Novels.
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
Cali Pesina
Some people from our community think that not getting an item of clothing is hard, but for other people getting a meal is difficult at best. That is the life of the two main characters in the book Cardboard. The father, Mike, is working his hardest to find a job while his town is going through a poor time. On the same day, it is his son's birthday. When Mike can't find a present for his son, Cam, he goes to a stand that was advertising free toys. The man there sells him cardboard but Mike soon f ...more
Kim Brennan
May 28, 2015 Kim Brennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
( March 15, 2012; 9780545418720 )
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
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
Gaven Murray
Jan 20, 2015 Gaven Murray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cardboard by Doug TenNapel Cam doesn't like his birthday present at first after all it is a cardboard box but him and dad make the best out of it by building a cardboard boxing man named bill but in the wee hours of night the cardboard box man comes to life. Marcus the neighbor hood bully steals the cardboard maker and accidentally creates an evil cardboard army that destroys the neighborhood. And tina is the nice lady next door thats in love with dad but hes too afraid of letting go of the past ...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
I don't typically read graphic-novels. My fourth graders love them, but it's not my favorite style.

I recently got a set of TenNapel's books from Scholastic and randomly picked this one up last night. I was in the mood for something quick.

The story was creative. A dad is out of work and has no money for his son's birthday. He brings him home a cardboard box and discovers that anything made with the cardboard can come to life.

A bad kid in the neighborhood gets a hold of the cardboard and create
My 10 year old daughter sits on my lap and tells me that I have to read this book. So, I start reading it out loud in a bad Australian accent (one of the first lines was someone saying "hello, Mike" and when I read it out-loud it sounded like hello, Mate. Then I couldn't stop, I recommend this reading method). I didn't know she had already read it, and she didn't care. We read the entire book in two sittings and it was great. Definitely something you should read, a modern fairy tale that would m ...more
Not great, not amazing, but overall a decent book. I liked the book "Cardboard" even though it was a bit strange. When cardboard people come to life a boy has to save his town from disaster. This book was just really weird and the author must have had a very large imagination to think of this bizarre story. The reason I didn't really love this graphic novel was because it was a graphic novel. I don't enjoy graphic novels like I do with traditional books. I can't always find my way around in the ...more
Kolby Brooks
Feb 25, 2016 Kolby Brooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 29, 2014 Riley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know what to expect when I picked this book up. I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it because of the graphic novel format and the plot, but you know what they say! Don't judge a book by its cover! That statement is definitely true in this case, I just couldn't put this book down! It was humous and had a great sense of adventure in it! I high recommend this book to anyone that wants a quick fun read! :)
Shay Vande
Jan 13, 2017 Shay Vande rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-t, comic-books, mpl
I picked this up just because the cover caught my eye. I didn't even read the description going into it, so I had no idea what to expect. I was hooked on it only after a few pages! It's thicker than a lot of graphic novels I pick up but I read it all in one sitting because I was so captivated by what was going to happen next.

Seeing all of the cardboard creations reminded me of my 3D art class. It made me feel creative and want to go make some art. I think it'd be a great book to read with some u
Jan 24, 2017 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was okay, I mean the idea is sort of good but The fact that everything is made of cardboard is sort of weird and ruins it, it just seems to "wimpy," if you will
Aurteze Rose
Oct 06, 2016 Aurteze Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AWESOME BOOK its cool when i first picked up the book i said WOW this seems stupid i was judging the book by its cover. as i read it i was getting good vibes about this book plz read this book it will blow your mined
Luis Diaz
I've read Ghostopolis and Bad Island and I enjoyed them. This one was a fun read as well. I think this one had a few little weird chops in the story I didn't like, but weren't too distracting. I also didn't like the way the female love interest was portrayed as very typical (waiting around for a man). The rest is TenNapel's formulaic approach to storytelling with a moral at the end of the story, but since I've read a few of his blog entries about his anti-gay stance and conservative (religious) ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Kaitlin rated it really liked it
This is a graphic novel I've owned for a fair while but only just got around to reading and thus I didn't know exactly what to expect when I went into it. I also got this as a present so I didn't even know anything about what would be inside.

First off the art style of this book is not my favourite to begin with because there's a lot of very over exaggerated features and expressions. Whilst this has the effect of bringing to life the characters of the story and making it exciting and dynamic I fe
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
Nov 10, 2012 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Graphic Novel and I loved it! Truly!

I bought this book as a Birthday gift. After the little dude was done, he immediately gave it to me to read. I'm so glad he did!

Dad is down out and out, thanks to the sucky economy(We can all relate), but it's son, Cam's birthday and he can't go home empty handed. He runs across a man selling odd gifts. The man gives him a card board box with 2 rules; Give the scraps back and ask for no more cardboard.
At home the neighborhood bully, Marcus p
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Mrs. Anderson's E...: Cardboard by Doug TenNapel 1 4 Dec 13, 2015 09:52AM  
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ENG 580 Spring 2014: Cardboard 1 2 May 06, 2014 03:18PM  
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