Picture Book Activity: Make a Car Wash Out of Cardboard

Created by Dana Sheridan, Education & Outreach Coordinator of the Cotsen Children's Library at Princeton University. You can find her wonderful Workin' at the Car Wash, Yeah maker activity & instructions here. Enjoy & thank you Dana!

The Scrubbly Bubbly Car Wash

written by Irene O'Garden & illustrated by Cynthia Jabar


  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Library Binding: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060294868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060294861
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.3 x 0.3 inches


PreSchool-Grade 2-This effervescent picture book features bouncy rhymes and frothy artwork in cotton-candy hues. When faced with "A crusty, dusty, dirty car," two enthusiastic siblings and their father know just where to go. Once inside the car wash, the children describe the sights and sounds that make it so appealing. The language is filled with tongue-twisting alliteration and quick rhythms that echo the even pace of the machinery, as "Soapy floppy brushes mop/from our tires to our top" and "Steamy sprays beyond the brushes/rinse us down in luscious rushes." Throughout the story, descriptive, rhyming phrases are added, culminating in a buoyant final sentence that makes a great ending. Infused with vivid colors and swirling textures, the stylized artwork has a modern, upbeat look. Bubbles float throughout the pages; the rounded faces and features of the children accentuate these circles, while the long, angular shape of the car provides an interesting contrast. Pair this with Sandra Steen and Susan Steen's Car Wash (Putnam, 2001) for two different views from the inside of a favorite destination.
Joy Fleishhacker, formerly at School Library Journal


Book spread: The Scrubbly Bubbly Car Wash written by Irene O'Garden & illustrated by Cynthia Jabar

PreS-Gr. 1. Rhyming, cumulative text accompanies cheerful, soft-focus illustrations in this introduction to what happens inside a car wash. Children may already know that cars aren't washed in the bathtub or a washing machine, but they'll giggle when the question is posed. The normal process that takes place in the car wash--rinsing, soaping, drying, and polishing--seems lots of fun here. The Scrubbly-Bubbly Car Wash is shaped like a girl's face. Sparkly sunglasses adorn her eyes and dirty cars enter through her open mouth. The whole thing is done in bubble-gum pink and other electric colors that evoke 1950s' car culture. Inside the wash, blue bubbles abound as the extra-long, pink-and-red sedan is cleaned. Little ones who enjoy riding in the car as it slides through a wash will enjoy this humorous, colorful take; those who haven't had the experience yet will probably want to go along next time their parents head off to bathe the car. Diane Foote
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