cover image Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All

Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All

Peter Catalanotto. S&S/Atheneum/Jackson, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0670-4

In Catalanotto’s surreal suburbia, many of the residents are costumed superheroes—there’s Garbage Man and the duo of Mailman and Paperboy to name a few. But their grownup powers are useless in the face of the title characters’ Kryptonite-like relentlessness. Question Boy sends people fleeing with his endless interrogations (“Could you fit a whale in there?” he asks Garbage Man of his truck. “How about a brontosaurus?”), while Little Miss Know-It-All evokes a similar response with her nonstop spewing of knowledge, accurate or not (“Hippos run faster than people! Hamsters blink only one eye at a time!”). When these two go toe to toe in a city park (complete with references to classic Star Trek and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), it’s more than a comic smackdown. Catalanotto (Ivan the Terrier) slyly uses the duel to comment on the disintegration of civil discourse, the importance of connecting to others as individuals, and the possibilities for common ground through simply listening. A story that starts out as a wonderfully weird comedy ends up a surprisingly nuanced lesson in the art of being human. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)