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The cardboard kingdom
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A team of neighbor kids use their imaginations and creativity to transform cardboard materials into fantastical homemade costumes that help them navigate conflicts with friends, family and their own identities, in a collaborative graphic novel that includes contributions by such authors as Jay Fuller, David DeMeo and Katie Schenkel. Simultaneous. - (Baker & Taylor)

Follows the adventures of a group of neighborhood children who make costumes from cardboard and use their imagination to create adventures with knights, robots, and monsters. - (Baker & Taylor)

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All's Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

"A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have." --Kirkus, Starred

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be--imagine that!

The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.


"There's room for everyone inside The Cardboard Kingdom, where friendship and imagination reign supreme." --Ingrid Law, New York Times bestselling author of Savvy

"A timely and colorful graphic novel debut that, like its many offbeat but on-point characters, marches to the beat of its own cardboard drum." --Tim Federle, award-winning author of Better Nate Than Ever - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Chad Sell grew up in a small town in central Wisconsin. He lived in a neighborhood much like the Cardboard Kingdom, where he and his friends bounded through backyards in imaginative games and outfits. He also drew a lot and came up with all kinds of colorful characters. His favorites were often the villains, because despite being different and misunderstood, they were powerful and confident, and they got the best costumes. Chad lives in Chicago with his husband and two cats.

Follow the creators of the kingdom on Twitter at @TheCardboardK. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In the Cardboard Kingdom, every kid can be whomever he or she wants to be! Evil or good, a superhero or a scientist, everyone is welcome among this gang of imaginative neighborhood friends. In Sell's episodic, short comics, each of the kids gets a chance to tell his or her story. Most are fairly standard middle-grade fare, such as a chapter about the bully who learns to play nice with others, but The Cardboard Kingdom really shines in its dissection of traditional gender roles: within the first few pages, readers learn that the Sorceress is a boy playing in high heels and robes, while the Mad Scientist is a girl who likes to wear a mustache. Though the kids rarely question these choices and often take on different personas, the parents at times are less accepting, and it's in these moments that Sell's themes of inclusivity and self-acceptance are truly driven home. Sell's playful, expressive, and boldly colored artwork always keeps the mood fun, quickly shifting between the real world and the kids' imagined scenes in the Cardboard Kingdom. The blocky figures have a great cartoon quality, and, with a wide range of skin tones, genders, and family types, every kid reading will have someone to relate to. This easy-reading story offers—in a fun, engaging package—a meaningful commentary on the importance of childhood games. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

One summer, neighborhood children enact fantastical adventures by constructing places and costumes out of cardboard. The diverse group includes a boy pushing gender norms with his alter-ego "the Sorceress," who he describes as "what I want to be." A refreshing look at what creative kids can do with a little imagination, this graphic novel uses vivid color and expression and very few words. Copyright 2019 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Comics creator and illustrator Sell teams up with 10 different authors to create an extraordinary linked anthology, seamlessly interweaving stories of unabashed joy and friendship.In a suburban neighborhood, an ebulliently diverse group of children gathers with glee to create a vibrant world of pretend play, find themselves, and support one another. In the story written by Katie Schenkel, Sophie feels terrible that people say she's too loud until she crafts a Hulk-like play identity known as "The Big Banshee." Manuel Betancourt's Miguel loves fairy tales and is thrilled when Nate asks him to play in "The Prince"—only to discover he's actually been cast as the "magical pea" and not the romantic role he'd been dreaming of. Seth pretends to be a superhero to try to protect himself from his dad in Michael Cole's "The Gargoyle," while in Sell's sole authored tale, "The Army of Evil," Jack identifies as the Sorceress because "She's what I want to be… / Magical. And powe rful. And amazing." Some neighborhood kids prefer STEM to fantasy while others build businesses; some have trouble making friends while others choose roles on the sidelines. Sell's cheerful, friendly artistic style, with bold borders and bright colors that unite all the stories, will appeal to fans of Victoria Jamieson. Thoughtful representation provides a true diversity of body shapes and sizes, races and ethnicities (the majority of the cast is kids of color), gender identities and expressions, sexualities, and family structures. Bios of all 11 contributors conclude the book. A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have for any graphic-novel collection. (Graphic fantasy. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his first title for young people, cartoonist Sell offers a story that unfolds in a neighborhood where children make elaborate cardboard costumes that let them try on new personas and powers. Vijay, his older sister Shikha, and their neighbor Sophie experiment first with masks that feature fangs and horns, and their adventures draw in diverse new kids, and issues of gender, class, and culture take center stage. Jack wants to be an evil sorceress; his mother doesn't mind the gown, but rejects the cruelty. Amanda's Spanish-speaking father doesn't want her wearing a mustache ("What would they say back home?"). While the proto-capitalist Alice seems unnecessarily ruthless ("I will get my customers back... and I will crush you"), other characters are drawn with tenderness, including Miguel and Nate, who must balance traditional messages about masculinity with the attraction they feel for each other. Blocky panel artwork adds impact by flipping back and forth between what the kids envision (big monsters, epic battles) and what's actually happening (cardboard creations buckling under the onslaught of garden hoses). Imagination, these kids prove, can erase what seem like unbridgeable differences. Ages 9–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (June)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–7—A diverse group of neighborhood children use cardboard, tape, and other materials to create a pretend fantasy world. When Jack puts on his purple robe and cardboard hair, he becomes the powerful and evil Sorceress. Though Sophie's grandmother tells her that girls shouldn't be loud, Sophie feels like her true self when she transforms into the boisterous Big Banshee, a green, Hulk-like monster. And when Seth, whose parents are divorcing, dons a purple mask and cape and turns into the Gargoyle, he feels strong enough to stand up to his increasingly erratic and aggressive father. The chapters each focus on a different character and deftly build on one another. The art is bold and cartoonlike. Panels seamlessly transition between what characters look like in their makeshift costumes and how they appear in their imagination. While the tone is light, Sell and several contributors (each of whom is responsible for a different character and chapter) tackle serious issues, such as gender stereotypes, bullying, and divorce, that will resonate with kids. The children's playacting is not only fun—it also gives them a safe space to express themselves. Readers may be inspired to craft their own cardboard kingdom after finishing the book. VERDICT A must-have for middle grade collections.—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

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