Books by Susan Arkin Couture

THE BIGGEST HORSE I EVER DID SEE by Susan Arkin Couture
ANIMALS
Released: May 11, 1997

A story from Couture (Melanie Jane, 1996) with obvious promise—about the bonds that ripen between people and animals, and about the connection between continuity and place—that gives way to one simple, forgettable refrain. A little boy watches as a horse charges by, through a meadow and up a hill: ``Another horse was by his side/Galloping over the mountain/Galloping over the mountain in the morning.'' The boy grows up, the seasons change, and the presence of the horses, now harnessed, are one constant in a world in flux. The speculative nature of the text (``If I drove that splendid team'') makes all the events depicted in the illustrations part of the boy's less- than-childlike imaginings—a future in which he is married, balding, bespectacled, and stooped, showing the horses to his grandson on the last page. The pulsing repetition—``Galloping over the mountain in the morning''—is pleasantly hypnotic, but the narrative is too weak to support the refrain, rendering it little more than singsong. Ewart's pale watercolors valiantly attempt to convey the passage of time and communicate the love felt by the boy for those great, wild steeds. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
MELANIE JANE by Susan Arkin Couture
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 30, 1996

Bright colors and winsome illustrations cannot sweeten this didactic rhyming tale from two picture-book newcomers. Melanie Jane holds her breath and throws ``both her shoes down the hall'' because her mother cannot change the color of the sky from blue to red. A child who has never heard the word no, Melanie flies out of her chair in a rage and lands on a cloud, vowing she'll never come down. Pleading by her parents, teacher, doctors, and police is to no avail. Finally, her parents give up, going on ``to something less stressful.'' Thus ignored, Melanie floats down, deciding the sky is just fine as it is. ``And now Melanie knows,/And you, too, I suppose,/That you can't always have your own way.'' While Melanie behaves like a two-year-old, she looks and speaks like an older child. For actual silliness and less moralistic fervor, stick with Stieg's Spinky Sulks (1988). (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >