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Graphic Novel Review 321/365: The Cardboard Kingdom

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #365GN on Twitter.

Hey, all! I have some cool things coming your way in June, so make sure that you are checking back every day. I appreciate you for reading.

You’ll notice that the author line on this review is a bit on the long side; that’s because it took a super-team, creating super-characters to make this super graphic novel.

Title: The Cardboard Kingdom 

Author(s): Chad Sell, Jay Fuller, Katie Schenkel, Manuel Betancourt, David Demeo, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole, and Barbara Perez Marquez

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (2018)

Age Rating: All Ages

The older I get, the more I see magic lost by younger generations.  At the risk of sounding a bit like the “back in my day” guy, I just don’t see kids playing in the neighborhood, at the park, on the porch, or even riding bikes anymore.  I feel that technology will eventually end these things all together, but books like The Cardboard Kingdom give me hope in that it takes me back to a place when kids were kids, and imagination was all you needed to fill a summer.

The kids/characters in The Cardboard Kingdom, created by all of the wonderful people listed above, come together over the course of a summer and build a fantastical world out of sweat, hard work, and a crap-ton of cardboard!  The book allows the reader to experience the summer with these kids over the course of a number of short stories.  However, these small windows into the lives of these kids show us much more than kids playing their summer days away.  We experience the firm hand of a grandparent, the deterioration of a marriage, the inability of a couple of parents to understand the decisions of their children, and a massive turf war between a potion kiosk and a weapons-forging business…just to name a few.

The art is fun, and colorful, and simple.  Everything it needs to be for what this book is: a throwback to a simpler childhood time.

And it’s a hefty book.  We get the pleasure of spending quite a few pages with these characters.  It’s nice.  This could have been a quick in, quick out to this world, but it’s not.  Spending time with these characters allows us to not only discover them but also discover ourselves in them.  Created for kids, this book will help youngsters relate to many of the situations life throws at us, but we all remember being young, thus all ages will find a home in this book.  On a side note: it’s also very clever the way the creators place characters in the book; we might not be substantially exposed to a character until late in the book, but we do meet them earlier, not allowing their entry to become jarring.

While I do not know the ages of all of the creators, I’m willing to bet that they can all remember a time when smart phones did not exist, so while I’m hopeful that a younger generation will explore means of entertainment that are not digital, older generations have a responsibility to exemplify what it means to have an imagination.  I hope this book encourages kids to go out and play with cardboard.  I hope kids can build and dream and imagine in ways that kids were able to without tablets and smart phones.  I know it takes mad skills to place first in Fortnight, but I also know it takes more skills to build a moving dragon out of cardboard.

The book comes out this week, and I’d like to thank the team for allowing me the privilege to be one of the first to read it.  I love it, and I’m excited to see how many times this book comes up in my future discussions about quality graphic novels for youngsters that dive deeper into the human experience.

Now, go build a cardboard castle, and don’t worry what your neighbors have to say about it!

And don’t forget, tomorrow, I start a week of reviewing every single comic book issue that was given out on Free Comic Book Day.  That’s going to be 7-8 issues a day!  I’m looking forward to it…hope you are too.

Happy reading!

Eric

Twitter: @comics_teacher

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