Roar of the Beast

Knopf. (Cardboard Kingdom: Bk. 2). Jun. 2021. 288p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9780593310243; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593125557.
Gr 4-7–This sequel to the highly acclaimed Cardboard Kingdom sees the characters growing up and facing new conflicts. Autumn is in the air and, with it, big plans for Halloween—which are disrupted when Nate accidentally breaks a leg investigating what appears to be a mysterious monster. The continuing search for the creature and the danger it represents play out alongside encounters with hostile local teenagers. Characters are isolated by fear, self-doubt, loneliness, hubris, depression, and secrecy, but they are ultimately united in their friendships and concern for one another. The artwork serves the children’s world of make-believe, switching freely between plain reality and how they see themselves in character. Sell employs emotive faces for this diverse bunch, with lots of curved eyebrows and unique expressions across countless group shots. The monster catalyst leads to subtle but significant character developments, including the blossoming romance between Nate and Miguel. Broken up into themed chapters, each with its own cover image, the narrative hops around a neighborhood’s worth of mischief.
VERDICT Another engrossing adventure that rewards imagination and empathy.

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