Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Allen Say & illustrated by Allen Say

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-395-97974-9
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Say scatters references to other artists through a typically elliptical tale of an itinerant painter and a man with a lonely, soaring vision. No sooner does the young wanderer step off a bus in a small town to take a job with a commercial artist than a new commission comes along: to paint a dozen huge desert billboards with a woman’s face and the single word “ArrowStar.” He finds out what it all means when the work is nearly done; the billboards lead to an immense roller-coaster, built by an enterprising dreamer in the middle of nowhere, near the route of a future highway. However, with the news that the road might not come, the woman to whom the billboards are also a tribute drives off, leaving the man alone with his grand construction. In Say’s art, every figure is a lonely one, seen at a remove, placed into wide, O’Keeffe-like landscapes or stepping into one Edward Hopper painting or another Norman Rockwell–like design. As with much of Say’s work, this spare episode will appeal most to readers of an inward, analytical bent who enjoy winkling out hidden meanings and subtle allusions. (Picture book. 10+)