"Alberta is a girl of particular tastes," begins this rib-tickling picture book. Indeed, young Alberta likes what she likes. And watch out if she doesn't! Her spiel on dogs ("not her favorite things") gives you an idea of her opinions: "I do not like large ones that drool, but small ones that keep their tongues in their mouths are okay. . . . Dogs have to be smaller than my knee for me to like them." Picture books occasionally present kids as relatively simple, one-dimensional characters, but any parent can tell you that Alberta is an excellent model of the likes and dislikes of real children. AnnaLaura Cantone's illustrations give the perfect sharp edge to the book's humor. Her style is what I call "modern primitive," but her sumptuous pastels, her use of mixed media and her character's amusing expressions are definitely the work of a pro.

As the book progresses, readers learn about a variety of things that are not Alberta's favorites: cats, food, colors, baths. Her remarks on toothpaste are guaranteed to bring a smile to any child and parent who have engaged in head-to-hand toothbrush battles: "She has tried mint, cherry, orange, and bubble-gum flavor, but none of them tastes very good. ÔIf I could never brush my teeth ever again, that would be fine with me.' " Cantone's illustration shows Alberta's mother brandishing a giant toothbrush that is truly a bristly scrub brush. Alberta's bulging eyes and red pigtails make her resemble Pippi Longstocking undergoing shock therapy.

This slightly devilish book delivers a fine message at its end, without being syrupy sweet. What turns out to be Alberta's favorite thing? "ME!" Why, of course we should have guessed.

As with most of my favorite picture books, the end papers are not to be missed. A passage notes: "Everyone has particular tastes. This means you." Below are eight questions, such as "Which is better, pizza or spaghetti?" and "What is your favorite word." If you want to develop your child's sense of humor, My Favorite Thing is bound to be a favorite.

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