Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cardboard” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.13  ·  Rating details ·  11,845 ratings  ·  977 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!
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.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,845 ratings  ·  977 reviews

Sort order
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it

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
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Melissa Chung
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was so.....different!! Really fun and silly. :D I enjoyed!
Charles Hatfield
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I personally enjoyed the concept a lot in this book. It is a very good concept like how you can make things with cardboard that are alive. But the characters were awful. There was character development at all. Also it would take random skips in time. Then there was also the weakness for cardboard. Which is literally everywhere so it could have been a really quick ending but it was not.

I would not recommend it to an older audience. The reason it is so high in the star rating is because I really
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Kent R.
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Megan (ReadingRover)
Imaginative idea about a widower and his son and how their lives are changed with magical cardboard that comes to life. The pages are filled with grief, moving on, action, adventure and bold colors. The story is unique and truly creative.
Perfect gift for my 11 year old son. He read it in a day! Then my 5 year old son wanted me to read it to him -- and right after we finished it, he asked me to read it to him again.

This book addresses so many issues, and naturally. Nothing seemed pushed or hurried. A very fun read that manages to introduce some basic philosophical questions.

I took a gamble and bought this book online, solely based on its good reviews. I'm so glad I did! I'd highly recommend it. This could be the book that gets
Jon M
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily Mills
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Doug always has great characters, interesting and deep themes to discover, complex problems to solve, and evil to be defeated and redeemed... All with incredible artwork. Another great graphic novel!
Zaniya Carter-
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love it
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked it, it wasn't the best book I've read, but it was good. I have definitely read better Graphic Novels.
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Another foray into the middle grades graphic novel genre for me! After a 4th grade student came in and said she loved this book (we had just put it on the shelves), I decided to make this the next graphic novel to read. After waiting a few weeks since a few kids had it on hold, I brought it home and read it quickly. I liked the beginning as Cam's father gives him a box for his birthday and they come to find out that it has magical powers. I could feel the relationship between them was one of lov ...more
Jordan Stephens
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another great story from Doug TenNapel! Nothing too fancy, just good storytelling. One his strengths is his ability to keep the story from slowing down. The characters interplay with each other very well, and the story has a type of efficiency in the pacing that makes it easy to read. The art is vibrant and colorful, which adds to it nicely. There are a couple touching moments, but mostly the book is what I think the author intended for it to be- light, fun, easy, and enjoyable.

Pablo V
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Boy get on the bird and her help is not butter and her mom said go to room
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Logan Johnson
Doug is one of my favorite authors, and this book is one of the reasons why. It gives me a sense of imagination I have never had before.
Robert Greenberger
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 29, 2016 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
ELIT 630: Graphic Novel - Cardboard 4 6 Jun 17, 2018 11:49AM  
Mrs. Anderson's E...: Cardboard by Doug TenNapel 1 4 Dec 13, 2015 09:52AM  
Book review. 2 9 Sep 28, 2014 08:41PM  
BYU-Adolescent Li...: Cardboard 1 1 May 26, 2014 01:47PM  
ENG 580 Spring 2014: Cardboard 1 2 May 06, 2014 03:18PM  
  • The Secret of the Stone Frog
  • Earthling!
  • The Lost Islands (Explorer, #2)
  • Bird & Squirrel on the Run (Bird & Squirrel, #1)
  • Around the World
  • How Mirka Met a Meteorite
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
  • Dogs of War
  • Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette, #1)
  • Monster on the Hill
  • Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian
  • Mighty Jack (Mighty Jack, #1)
  • Curses! Foiled Again (Foiled, #2)
  • One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #1)
  • Ichiro
  • Captain Disaster (Squish, #4)
  • Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse
  • Compass South (Four Points #1)
Doug TenNapel is the Eisner Award winning writer/artist of over sixteen graphic novels. He is published by Image Comics and Scholastic/Graphics.

He's been married for 27 years to the love of his life and has four book-loving kids.

Doug's favorite authors include G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. He reads mostly philosophy but tends to get his fiction from audio-books.

His performs live
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »