Emily Jenkins, Author, Anna-Laura Cantone, Illustrator , illus. by AnnaLaura Cantone. Atheneum/Schwartz $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-84975-6

Alberta prefers cats to dogs. She adores the color orange "because anything that's orange looks terrifically exciting." Among foods, "Her favorite ice cream is peppermint. Her favorite vegetable is potato chip. But are any of these her favorite thing of all the things there are?" In this guessing game, Jenkins (Five Creatures ) gives Alberta "particular tastes" as well as rationales for each preference. She creates mild suspense about the girl's absolute favorite item, revealed when Alberta does a headstand and happily shouts, "Me! " Cantone (The Wedding Dress Mess ) pictures Alberta with auburn braids and a garnet dress that gives her a gumdrop silhouette. In the scribbly, loose pencil drawings, enhanced with earthy gouache hues and mixed-media collage, Alberta is a squat, bossy presence. She frolics with a two-tone cat, bulldog and bird; among other children, she reinforces her opinions by waving a teacher's pointer. Readers can debate whether animal shows trump cartoons, or whether plush owls are superior to baby dolls, as Alberta insists. Those who identify with the protagonist may enjoy the ride, but even readers who don't agree with Alberta will be drawn in by the imaginative, zippy art. Ages 4-8. (June)

Reviewed on: 07/12/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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