My first encounter with this book was back when I visited the Kerrytown Book Festival. I wanted to buy it, but had limited funds. I went Christmas shopping downtown yesterday and found this book again. I bought it for my cousin, who's in junior high, and today decided to read it to make sure it was a good fit for him.* My conclusion: This book is awesome for him! It may be awesome for you, too.
The story starts out pretty typically. A down-on-his-luck dad, Mike, can't find a job and has no money to buy his kid, Cam, a birthday gift. Things take a turn, however, when Mike is convinced to spend his last 79 cents on a giant cardboard box. They turn it into a father-son project and make a boxer out of the cardboard. That night, the boxer, Bill, comes to life! As you can imagine, things go downhill from there.
There are some typical story elements in this book, a bully-rich-kid villain, a love interest for the dad, etc. But TenNapel does a really good job of keeping the overall story interesting and enjoyable. At no point in reading this did I ever get bored or even think of putting down the book. The art style is so interesting. It's amazing what cardboard can be and do!
This adventure is definitely meant for the middle-grade level reader, but it is a non-stop read. The artwork is incredible. The characters are interesting and relatable. The scenes between Mike and the love interest are a bit awkward, but then again, that may be the point.The ending is a little sappy, but ultimately heart-warming. I give this book 4 hoots and a recommendation as a great Christmas gift.
*It's called product testing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.