Monday, October 8, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: The Cardboard Kingdom by Chris Sell

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell and other. 288 p. Random House Children's Books, June, 2018. 9781524719388. (Review of copy borrowed from public library, but purchasing for library collection)

It's going to be a graphic kind of week this week, TMS Readers. This is because I will be attending Bookfest@bankstreet in a few weeks. In addition to listening in on panel discussions about children's literature and hearing a keynote, attendees choose a themed book discussion group led by a variety of librarians from the New York area. I chose Christopher Lassen's group, Graphic Novels for Everyone. I don't read enough graphic novels. Though I had already read two, most of the other titles were new to me and some will be featured tomorrow and Friday.

Middle Grade Monday features The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. Take a diverse group of neighborhood kids, add a bunch of cardboard boxes and the result is a summer filled with imaginative role playing that has no bounds. A boy can be an evil sorceress. A girl can be as loud as she wants. A bully might even find some friends. 

There are so many things I love about this starting with the cardboard boxes. My brother built a "fort" in our backyard with junk found around the neighborhood. We had so much fun finding and building and playing. Sure, it was an eyesore; but man, there were adventures. One of my sons built a fort with his back-door friend on an overgrown "paper street" that abutted his friend's yard. Imaginative free play is such an important part of healthy child development and I worry for over-scheduled kids who are deprived of this.

Each kid was working through his or her own stuff, whether it was dealing with fighting parents, absent parents or identity and it all happened organically. While there were supportive adults around, the kids did the work.

The diversity did not feel forced. 

This episodic and exuberantly illustrated graphic novel is a perfect read for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson.

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