Author: Doug TenNapel
Reading Range: 2.2 (AR Finder)
Interest Range: ages 10 and up (
Plot: It is Cam’s birthday and his father, Mike, does not have any money to buy him a gift. He is a carpenter looking for work. Mike runs into a man named Gideon who sells him a piece of cardboard. The piece of cardboard comes with two rules: return any scraps and do not ask for more cardboard. Mike and Cam broke both of those rules. Mike and Cam turn that piece of cardboard into a boxer that comes alive. The cardboard boxer is named Bill. The neighborhood bully named Marcus discovers what the cardboard can do and steals it from Cam. He makes his own army of cardboard monsters who turn against him. Cam, Mike, and Billy have to save their neighborhood from the cardboard monsters Marcus created.
Review: In this story, Mike is the main character of the story. The story is told through his eyes and shows how he is trying to raise his son without his wife and not much money. He is trying to give his son the best he can. He is having trouble letting his wife go and moving on with his life. One of the most touching scenes of the book is when he is talking to the cardboard version of his wife. She tells what he needs to hear in order to live his life. I enjoyed the character of Bill as he becomes more of a person. He starts out as a piece of cardboard but in the end he becomes a hero. It was interesting to see how the cardboard is used to reveal the truth about characters. Marcus reveals how sad and alone he really is through his monsters. I liked this book and would recommend it to all-ages.
Additional Info:
Main Characters:
Mike-He is an out-of-work carpenter who is trying to f ind a job to support him and his son. He is also trying to get over the death of his wife.
Cam-He is Mike’s son. He tries to help his father as much as he can.
Bill-He is the cardboard boxer that comes to life. He is loyal to both Mike and Cam.
Tina-She is the next-door neighbor. She has a crush on Mike.
Marcus-He is the neighborhood bully.
Pink Eye-He is Marcus’ henchman. He always has pink eye.
Gideon-He is the one who sells Mike the cardboard.

Theme: Facing darkness, Family, Heroism, Self-awareness

Bibliographic Info:

TenNapel, D. (2012). Cardboard. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Tagline:  Adventure begins when cardboard comes to life!


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