Cardboard Kingdom is a graphic novel that follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical costumes as they explore life, family, friends and themselves.
Created and drawn by Chad Sell we see a world that we probably have all lived in at one point. Who has not been “the loud girl” or known “the bully” or had that “little minion” kid sister? Or maybe you are the boy who wants to be the “Sorceress” or is the young lady who is the “Queen of the Animals.”
Mostly illustrated, the minimal text pushes the story along. A few times, however, I was a little confused who was who. While a diverse group of people (all ages and races), characters pop up that look/sound like another and I had to stop and think who it was. I think; however, this will be fine for the age group it is aimed at (ages 8 to 10). This is mostly due to the fact each chapter is introduced with the main character at the start. One of the best parts of the story is how you “see” the imagination illustrated side-by-side to the reality (that Damsel in Distress is really a baby doll; the monster is a lot of soggy cardboard after if comes out of the ocean).
The story is not always the most realistic of stories (spoiler: all the kids mostly get along, except the bully, who of course, “comes around later”) but it does have a lot of realism: the immigrant family, the mother not sure about her son wanting to be the Sorceress, the divorcing parents, the grandmother raising her grandson and a remarriage where new dad is black and mom is white. Perhaps more than what could actually happen during one summer happens to these 16 kids, but overall, it is a way to be introduced to a lot of different thoughts and ideas.
The authors are varied from Jay Fuller, Manuel Betancourt, Cloud Jacobs, Barbara Perez Marquez and more.