My Favorite Thing (According to Alberta) (Anne Schwartz Books) Review

My Favorite Thing (According to Alberta) (Anne Schwartz Books)
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Author Emily Jenkins and illustrator AnnaLaura Cantone team up to produce one of the most imaginative books of 2004. "My Favorite Thing (According to Alberta)" features a memorable hero who discloses a number of strongly held idiosyncratic beliefs and preferences. She is indeed "a girl of particular tastes." Alberta talks not only about the things she likes (but is one of these her "favorite?" the book asks), but also about things she doesn't like (and even something that frightens her), and this can get humorously complicated. Throughout the book, Jenkins mixes her third-person narration with Alberta's authentic-sounding monologue:
Narrator: "Dogs are not her favorite thing."
Alberta: "'I do not like large ones that drool, but small ones that keep their tongues in their mouths are okay,' explains Alberta."
Narrator: "Lots of people don't appreciate baths, but Alberta likes to soak in the tub for hours."
Alberta: "'I stay until my feet look prune-y,' she says. `I have three rubber sharks.'"
There's something both precocious and yet quite real about a youngster with such definite ideas. However, Alberta comes across simply as someone who knows herself, and as long as she's being asked, she's doesn't hesitate to share with the reader (even though you might not always approve "If I could never brush my teeth again, that would be fine with me," she informs us, although her mother makes sure that she does! So what is Alberta's favorite thing? WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD. For someone who feels confident enough to tell all this personal information, it is perhaps not surprising that "My favorite thing is...ME!"
This is a very funny book that realistically captures the thoughts and feelings of the egocentric very young (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). The creative story encourages self-esteem through self-expression, and is not at all message- heavy.
AnnaLaura Cantone's wonderful illustrations look like collages with cut painted paper, perhaps color-reproduced pictures, and fanciful perspective-jarring compositions and figures (including a dog with a studded collar, a cat with a very long snout, and a bird who almost always has something perched on its head). There's a great deal of action, color, and movement in the pictures, and these, combined with slightly untidy lines and squiggles, give a wonderfully chaotic quality that represents Alberta's individuality and fast-paced inner life. They resemble something Ralph Steadman might draw if he were restricted to G-rated pictures. Recommended very highly for those who like humor, unconventionality, and the raw, unadorned truth of a young girl who speaks her mind.

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Alberta likes what she likes. Big dogs: no Small dogs: yes Grapefruits: no Gummy candies: yes Her favorite color is orange. And her favorite vegetable is potato chip. She likes baths. And boats. But none of these is her favorite thing of all. What could it be, then, her favorite thing?--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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