Reviews for Cartboy and the Time Capsule

Booklist Reviews 2013 April #2
For a history class assignment, hapless Hal Rifkind documents his sixth-grade year in journal entries for a reader in the future. He bemoans his new "Cartboy" nickname, bestowed when he starts using a grocery cart for his school books. He nearly earns an F in history, unsuccessfully campaigns for a room of his own, adjusts to a vegan diet, and temporarily loses his best friend. His first-person entries stress his hatred for history, as well as his resistance. These chapters are occasionally illustrated with small black-and-white photographs, supposedly taken from the web, and rough drawings of his own, including time lines that are appropriately described as "ridiculous" by the teacher. The strained humor relies on exaggeration and standard boy-reader tropes: eating raw meat in desperation, dirty diapers, farts, wedgies, and recurring references to attaining level 13 in a video game. Clearly modeled on Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007), this first novel should have adequate appeal for exactly the same fans. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
For a sixth-grade time capsule meant to be opened in the year 2500, Hal entertainingly describes what it's like to share a bedroom with twin baby sisters and to be courting a failing grade in history. Funny cartoon timelines and occasional doodles enhance the quirky humor. Sure, this sad-sack path blazed by Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid is familiar ground, but Hal treads it well.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #4
Hal is a sixth grader so hapless that when he tries to con his parents into buying him a cool motorized scooter, he ends up with one of those carts "that one-hundred-year-old ladies use to carry fruit." Hal entertainingly confesses this indignity and others in a journal he is forced to write for a history project, a class time capsule meant to be opened in the year 2500. To the citizens of the future, Hal describes what it's like to share a bedroom with twin baby sisters -- "Between the crying, teething, spit-up, and diapers, I've slept about seven minutes since they were born" -- and to be courting a failing grade in history while enduring a dad who reenacts Revolutionary War battles for fun and says things like "History is who we are and why." Funny cartoon timelines give Hal's interpretation of who we were and are and where we're going (his timeline of "Sports on Earth" goes from "golf with dinosaur poop" to "molecularly modified shape-shifting ball"), and occasional doodles and well-placed spot photos enhance the quirky humor. Sure, this sad-sack path blazed by Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid is familiar ground, but Hal treads it well, and readers will find it easy to spend time with him. christine m. heppermann

Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #1
Bad enough history class is so boring; now it's keeping Hal from getting his own room. Sixth-grade history teacher Mr. Tupkin is making everyone keep journals for a time capsule to inform people 100 years from now about daily life in the 21st century--so history even makes the future lame. Hal's history-buff dad says that he won't move his fix-it business out of the spare room (so Hal can move in) unless Hal's D in history becomes a B. Hal's doomed to share a room with his baby sisters forever. Mom's no help; she's too busy studying acupuncture, forcing veganism on the family and taking in hand-me-downs from a bully for Hal to wear. His best friend, Arnie, is unsympathetic and, incredibly, more interested in the middle school dance than in important stuff like getting to level 13 on RavenCave. A fight with Arnie and a blowout with Dad make sixth-grade the worst year ever…can anything save it? Can anything save Hal? Campbell's debut is fast and funny and dotted with drawings, labeled pictures and goofy timelines. Hal's authentic voice and realistic 12-year-old sense of humor will hook Wimpy Kid fans, and the idea that history is more than facts and quotes comes across nicely without seeming forced. A certain series starter (thankfully), given the promise of an interesting summer in the final pages. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 February #2

Campbell's first children's book is structured as the yearlong journal of sixth-grader Hal Rifkind, written for inclusion in a class time capsule. Chapters focus on transportation, clothing, sports, and other topics, allowing Hal to riff on the travails of his daily life, including sharing a bedroom with his baby sisters, worrying about passing history class, and facing the upcoming school dance. The episodic format allows little narrative tension to build (Hal's assumed betrayal by his best friend is the only real source of drama), and the attempts at humor often miss the mark. The book aims for a Wimpy Kid-style format: each chapter ends with a lighthearted timeline charting human advancements in food, communication, and such, but the photos, clip art, and cat heads that dot the text feel stuck in and superfluous (although the deadpan jokes in the photo captions are often funnier than those in the story itself). Hal addresses his journal entries to readers in the distant future, but even those in the present may struggle to connect with him. Ages 8-12. Agent: Laura Dail, Laura Dail Literary Agency. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 5-7--Hal Rifkind just wants what most sixth-grade boys want: more time for video games and no history tests. Unfortunately, eccentric parents and a grueling teacher are out to get him. There's also the problem of lack of funds. Mr. Tupkin takes the cake when he assigns the class to each write a yearlong journal, which will be added to a time capsule. Hal's diary is filled with photos and time lines chronicling his efforts to get his own room and avoid his history homework. While Hal is amusing and likable, his sarcasm sometimes falls flat, and he occasionally comes across as whiny. Supporting characters are thinly drawn and one-dimensional. The time lines and photos are fun additions but not enough to carry this book.--Terry Ann Lawler, Burton Barr Library, Phoenix, AZ

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