Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car

This tale’s light humor and unexpected premise will encourage empathy and appreciation for artistic flights of fancy.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A shy, solitary old man finds friendship and community when he decorates cars in this charming children’s picture book.

No one notices elderly, quiet Arthur Zarr until he embarks on a creative enterprise involving modified “art cars,” but soon, he gets the whole neighborhood involved. It all starts when he discovers a large acorn and decides to display it on the hood of his car. No one notices his first foray into car décor, but it does kindle his own interest. Before long, his car sports tin cans on the front bumper and a blue, smiley-face ball on the antenna. When he drives to his local farmers market, he receives smiles and some daisies to put in his bumper’s tin cans. “Pretty soon, more people began to notice Arthur and his not-so-plain car,” says the narrator, and more decorations come his way, including dangly earrings, a plastic flamingo wearing goggles, old neckties, coins, and a jack-in-the-box. When Arthur competes in an “Art Car Parade” down Main Street, all his new friends, young and old, cheer him on before the story’s touching finale. Author Nickell (Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare, 2015) has fun with the art-car concept while also offering a gentle subtext about the importance of community and human connection and the enriching value of artistic expression. Illustrator Megenhardt’s (The Jolly Dinosaur Carnival, 2015, etc.) pleasing illustrations stretch across each page in an imaginative mix of gray and brightly colored pencil as Arthur’s happiness grows and as his car becomes more outlandish. A page of information about art cars, art parades, and the Art Car Museum in Houston follows the story, along with a two-page illustration that features each of Arthur’s car decorations as a letter of the alphabet.

This tale’s light humor and unexpected premise will encourage empathy and appreciation for artistic flights of fancy. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9961150-0-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

Close Quickview