cover image Melanie Jane

Melanie Jane

Susan Arkin Couture. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023391-4

A bratty child learns a lesson in this stylish but relatively insubstantial cautionary tale. ""Melanie Jane/ Was heard to complain/ That the sky was the wrong shade of blue./ `I hate it,' she said./ Why can't it be red?'/ Her mother said, `What can I do?' "" At this, Melanie literally flies into a tantrum and takes a seat upon a cloud. She smiles smugly as her parents and neighbors beg her to return. Only when the weary adults start to ignore her does the girl float back down to earth--serving more as a lesson to overindulgent parents than to spoiled kids like herself. First-time author Couture, a lyricist whose credits include Jelly's Last Jam, places fashionability before narrative content. Her breezy rhymes are on the mark, but lead only to a facile ""you can't always have your own way"" conclusion. Dervaux, who has illustrated for Vogue and French Glamour, favors a minimalist approach in outfitting the title character with a pert bob and a uniform-style plaid skirt. Cartooning in basic-black ink, she paints each smooth figure in primary colors against elegant solid-color backdrops. The idea of the enfant terrible gets lost amid her work's restraint. Ages 3-6. (June)