10 March 2016

*REVIEW & GIVEAWAY* Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car by Cathey Graham Nickell

by Cathey Graham Nickell
Illustrated by Bill Megenhardt

Genre: Children's Picture Book/Outsider Art
Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative
Date of Publication: November, 2015
# of pages: 40


Arthur Zarr is a quiet man with few friends. His life is rather plain, and his car is plain, too. But not for long! When Arthur gets a creative idea to add everyday objects to his car’s plain exterior, he’s noticed for the first time. Neighbors and other bystanders add their own artistic flair to the car, too. What happens when he enters his bedazzled vehicle in the town’s art car parade? Mr. Zarr finds happiness and makes friends by building an amazing art car. In this whimsical story, children learn about recycling, community, friendship building, and the power of imagination. The book includes a “History of Art Cars” page for readers who’ve never heard of this creative form of artistic expression. It also has a subtle ABC theme, as Arthur Zarr adds objects to his art car in alphabetical order! This is the first—and so far, the only—children’s book published about an art car. Suitable for all ages but especially ages 4-8. Illustrated by Houston graphic artist, Bill Megenhardt.

 Praise for Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car:

“Nickell’s book is a treat for sight, sound, and sense, for readers and artcarfans (no, you won’t find the word in your dictionary just yet, anyway) of all levels.”
Lone Star Literary Life.

“A wonderful story of art, opening up to the joys of life, and celebrating the artist in everyone.”—Lynette Wallace, Executive Director, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Houston, Texas.

“Cathey Nickell’s book will help fuel the desire to make positive changes in our world through artistic endeavor.”—Alicia Duplan, Assistant Director, Art Car Museum, Houston, Texas.

“Cathey’s story. . . is both engaging and warm. By the end, I found myself rooting for Mr. Zarr. I even felt a small twinge of disappointment when he didn’t win the trophy. Artcar Nation highly recommends this book. Give it to all the children you know.”— Paul McRae, Artcar Nation.

My Review

I have long been fascinated with children's books.  What is it that draws one into the story in such a way that one forgets she is reading a book and suddenly becomes a part of the story?  I suppose it's magic.  And that's exactly the case with this lovely book.

What I adored most about the story line is that a shy person learns to come out of his shell with the help and kindness of new-found friends.  I think we forget just how important kindness for others, for our neighbors is.  There is another sort of kindness woven throughout this book - kindness for our environment.  

Fueled by the growing support of his community, Arthur Zarr recycles odds and ends to make a masterpiece worthy of the city art car parade.  Indeed, the work of art on wheels is a collaborative effort and the art show becomes a wonderful experience not only for Arthur Zarr, but for his new friends, and for the reader herself.

 As lovely as the story line is, so are the unique illustrations that draw the reader in. Employing the same magic as the written part of the story, the illustrator conveys how lonely Arthur is in the beginning using only sketches in black and white.  However, as the story progresses, the images become more colorful and vibrant.  In the end, a rainbow of happy experiences rewards not only the subject of the story, but the reader herself.

My favorite part of the story is discovered at the back of the book. The reader may not notice along the way that the objects Arthur places on the car are, indeed, represented in the alphabet. It is fun to see the items placed with their corresponding letters in alphabetical order. 

As a lover of children's books, I highly recommend this book for children ... and for those who are still a child at heart!  This book will make an excellent addition to any library.

So, it gives me great pleasure to award Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car with:



  • BEER CAN HOUSE, 222 Malone St., Houston, Texas (weekends only).  
  • BERINGS Baby and Kids Dept., 3900 Bissonnet St. and 6102 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas. 
  • BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOKSTORE, 224 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colorado. 
  • BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, Texas. BRAZOS BOOKSTORE, 2421 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas. 
  • CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM, 5216 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas. 
  • THE JUNG CENTER BOOKSTORE, 5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas. 
  • TOY FAIR at Pierremont Mall, 4801 Line Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana.

Cathey Graham Nickell is an author, mother, and wife living in Houston, Texas. She is best known as the seeing-eye-person for her little blind dog named Cricket. Cathey launched her first children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, in November 2015. She doesn’t drive an art car herself, but she has a habit of covering the back of her SUV with bumper stickers! Cathey also snaps pictures of art cars—which are plentiful in Houston—when she sees them. Her all-time favorite car was the bright-yellow Volkswagen Beetle that her grandmother drove in the 1970s.  Cathey draws from her experience as a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. After taking a few years off to raise four children, Cathey started freelance writing again in 2012 when a non-profit organization called the Institute for Spirituality and Health hired her to research and write its six-decade history. Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare: A 60-Year History of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center was published in 2015. The book is used as a marketing and communications tool, and all financial proceeds benefit the Institute (not Cathey). Cathey graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. She earned a Master of Arts from Louisiana State University-Shreveport in 2013. Find her online where she blogs about her writing and publishing adventures.

Three lucky winners will each win 
$20 CASH
an Author and Illustrator 
Signed Copy of the Book!

Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!
3/7     Hall Ways Blog  – Review 
3/8     Because This is My Life Y'all – Author Interview
3/10   Books and Broomsticks -- Review
3/11   The Librarian Talks – Excerpt
3/12   The Page Unbound – Review
3/13   Texas Book Lover – Guest Post
3/14   The Crazy Booksellers – Promo
3/15   Missus Gonzo  -- Review
3/16   A Novel Reality  -- Author Interview

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