GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS: dear sister by Alison McGhee/The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell


What do you do when you have an incredibly annoying little sister? Write her letters telling her so, of course!

Whininess, annoyingness, afraid of the darkness, refusal to eat lima beans, and pulling brother's hair. This is the criteria on which little sisters are graded. Inspired by the notes Alison McGhee's own kids would write each other, this heavily illustrated collection of letters and messages from an older brother to his little sister reveal the special love--or, at the very least, tolerance--siblings have for each other.


Anyone who has grown up with a sibling should be able to relate to this book.  This quick read is presented as a collection of notes written by an older brother to his little sister over an eight year period of time.  The letters are funny and combined with the illustrations make for an entertaining read.  The brother starts off unsure that he likes his little sister (as is obvious from the notes he writes and the pictures he draws--to his parents' great displeasure).  But over time, he grows to tolerate and then have affection for his little sister.  While the book provides a quick and entertaining read, it's also easy to relate to the angst and frustration both the brother and sister experience.  Bound to be enjoyed by many young readers.


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!


This graphic novel follows the exploits of a neighborhood full of imaginative kids.  Each brief chapter focuses on one or two of the individual kids and the character he/she imagines him/herself to be.  There is plenty of interaction between the different children, both positive and negative.  They have disagreements just like any group of children might.  In addition, each of the children has other things they struggle with: single parents, frustrated parents, bullies, gender bias, etc.  But the focus of the book is on the imaginative play of the children and they way they use cardboard boxes to build their characters and kingdoms.  The artwork is bright and cheerful and appealing.  I for one am delighted to see a book that celebrates that wonderful things called imaginative play, especially in a world that has become so much about technology. Middle grade readers are bound to enjoy this one, especially those who enjoy such play themselves.


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