cover image I Have a Question

I Have a Question

Andrew Arnold. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-83824-7

In first-person narration, a child envisions the dire outcomes of saying something “silly” in class. After a lesson, the white-presenting youth considers asking a question but worries when classmates, portrayed with varied skin tones, stay silent. “I can’t ask it, can I?” the protagonist concludes, weighed down by imaginings of the teasing that may result (“see ya later, silly-question kid”). A move to another town will be necessary, the narrator determines, and then another move to outer space, where no one can judge—and no one can provide answers. Finally, determining “I have to know,” the child finds the courage to raise a hand for the benefit of all, unleashing heaps of classroom queries in the process. Spare comics-like renderings from Arnold have a contemporary vibe; humorous shots of furniture being moved onto a ship that blasts into space while the solitary protagonist peers from a window aptly capture the high-feeling stakes of anticipatory worries, as well as the very real emotions driving them. Ages 3–6. (Jan.)