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.
--Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2011, *STAR
Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All
By Peter Catalanotto
(Atheneum; ISBN: 9781442406704 9; February 2012; Spring catalog p.15)
An irresistible force meets an immovable object with hilarious results.The superheroes that populate this town are no match for Question Boy. With his insatiable need to know, he can make Garbage Man, Oil Man and Wonder Waitress run for cover to escape his incessant queries. Then he meets Little Miss Know-It-All, who answers all his questions and then some, peppering him with one factoid after another until he is supine on the grass, seemingly defeated. Dizzy with victory, she starts to leave in triumph, when Question Boy raises the most unanswerable question of all, the all-purpose “Why,” screaming it over and over until she is driven to give the only possible response. Used most often by exasperated adults, her answer settles the matter convincingly, at least for the present. Thus the contest is done, and to the cheers of the onlookers, the two rivals walk off together as friends. These precocious characters are instantly recognizable, and Catalanotto brings them to life with tenderness and humor in rapid-paced action and dialogue. The text, boldfaced and widely spaced, is set in the delightfully and appropriately named “CC Yada Yada Yada.” Extra-bright and colorful watercolor paintings of various sizes, shapes and perspective perfectly complement and enhance the tale. Grownups beware. Youngsters might have their own questions and answers after this romp.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2012 *STARRED
Question Boy Meets
Little Miss Know-It-All
by Peter Catalanotto;
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary Jackson/Atheneum 40 pp.
2/12 978-1-4424-0670-4 $16.99
Young children do seem to have a superhuman capacity for interrogation. Catalanotto takes this concept and flies with it to create his intrepid caped crusader for whom no question is too daunting or trivial to ask. Patrolling a residential neighborhood, rendered in verdant sun-drenched watercolors, Question Boy takes on and bests one costumed everyday hero after another. For example, while Garbage Man (bedecked in head-to-toe spandex with a giant red G on his chest) is “busy freeing the city of filth and rubbish,” QB fires increasingly impossible queries at him—“How much stuff can you fit in your truck?” “More than an elephant?” “Can you fit a whale in there?”—until the outmatched sanitation engineer has no choice but to flee. Obviously, parents of young children will identify with his plight—and the plight of Police Woman, Mechanic Man, Wonder Waitress, etc.—but, happily, the book’s humor is not adults-only. The caricatured scenarios build to an absurdist height when from the depths of the park comes, finally, a worthy opponent who has all the answers and then some. When Question Boy and the tiara-and-tutu-clad Little Miss Know-It-All face off against each other, it’s the most satisfying showdown since…well, there really is no comparison.
--The Horn Book, March/April 2012