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The English Roses Hardcover – September 15, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Callaway; 1 edition (September 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670036781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670036783
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 7.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (317 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Madonna hangs up her material-girl cloak to teach children the importance of looking beyond a surface sheen. In The English Roses, the superstar's children's book debut, four little girls (the roses in question) "play the same games, read the same books, and like the same boys." Nicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Grace all love to dance the monkey and the tickety-boo… and they all are horribly jealous of Binah, the perfect, beautiful, smart, kind girl who lives nearby. Even though they know Binah is lonely, she makes them sick. They would say, "Let's pretend we don't see her when she walks by." And even, "Let's push her into the lake!" The pleasantly bossy narrator explains, "And that is what they did. No, silly, not the lake part, the pretending not to see her part." One night, however, the four girls all have the same dream that sets them straight. A fairy godmother sprinkles them with fairy dust and takes them to spy on Binah. When they see that she lives alone with her father, slaving away night and day at household chores, the four girly grumblers feel very sorry for her. The fairy scolds them, "… in the future, you might think twice before grumbling that someone else has a better life than you." And they do. This morality tale is nothing new under the sun, but it is cleverly told, with many teaspoonfuls of good humor. Jeffrey Fulvimari's illustrations are no less than stunning--filling every page with vivacious black ink lines and gorgeous watercolor reminiscent of 1960s fashion sketches. Children will enjoy this "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" story that celebrates friendship as much as it teaches compassion. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-In yet another change of public persona, Madonna turns Mother-Knows-Best moralist with a tale aimed at preteens, though packaged in picture-book format. Responding to an admonition from one of their mothers, and with additional guidance from a fairy godmother, four young fashion plates at a sleepover simultaneously dream that a classmate, ostracized because of her extreme beauty, has to do all the household chores because her mum is dead. When this actually turns out to be true, the four guiltily invite Binah into their circle, and surprise, surprise, soon they're all thick as thieves. An unseen narrator delivers this rough-hewn story in a conversational, "listen to me, I'm telling you this for your own good," tone, breaking in distractingly several times to make sure that readers are paying attention. Reflecting a background in fashion art, Fulvimari places skinny lasses with oversized eyes, dressing and posing as if they've stepped from the pages of a department store catalog, against visually bewildering expanses of scribbled filigree or loudly patterned wallpaper. All in all, this overproduced episode, the first of a projected series, will have to rely on hype rather than content or presentation to find a readership.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a weak, unimaginative book that comes across as an amateur offering at best. In fact, my eleven year old niece has written more engaging stories in her English assignments. It's a basic story with flat prose (a pretty little girl is ignored by her peers because they're jealous of her looks. In steps a fairy godmother to show them that the girl's life is actually quite sad, so they should be nicer to her). This book seems to be too basic for the age-group it's aimed at (i.e. the `peer' age of the girls in the story of 8+), yet it's probably not pertinent enough for children who tend to have picture books read to them. In my experience most toddlers are content to interact with all children (in fact younger kids invariably gravitate towards the more aesthetically pleasing of their peers). The book also skips the issue of how children ought to treat beautiful peers who don't have dead mothers. I thought that you were supposed to be nice to people no matter what. This book seems to say, okay, the kid's prettier than you but hey, be nice, her mom's dead. This is a one-dimensional offering that simply doesn't cover the real issues of jealousy and ostracism. It also seems to ignore the fact that, in today's world, it's the plain, overweight children who are usually left out. All in all, it's pretty terrible.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You know, I actually expected it to be pretty good, as I figured she had probably hired someone to "edit" it into a well-written and fun book.
Nope, she wrote it all herself. The moral? That beautiful people have problems too, and that the children of single family households are stressed slaves without childhoods. Um, how did that bit get past the PC review board?
Poorly written and insulting to anyone with only one parent, anyone who is snubbed by the "in crowd" for reasons other than being beautiful and perfect, or with a sense of literary decency.
I'm appauled at how many people enjoyed this book.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I mistakenly trusted Madonna and bought this book after only flipping through. As a mother of two daughters, I have now hid the book so it is not chosen for our reading time. I find it full of all the wrong messages..beauty as the focus attribute, jealously and envy as part of a child's everyday existence, social clique acceptance. These combined with the condescending technique of scolding the reader and assuming the reader's thoughts and comprehension make the book an insensitive, insulting and shockingly irresponsible effort from a person I previously and consistently admired as an artist and mother.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Having read hundreds of children's books over the years, I was willing to keep an open mind. Against my better judgement (and the hundreds of reviews warning me not to), I still went ahead and purchased this book. What a mistake! I must admit, the illustrations are beautiful and very engaging and I was almost able to forgive the words on the page... Almost.
Madonna's writing is patronising and, quite frankly, rude! I was faced with the question of "Why is she mad at me? I didn't ask that!" when Madonna's writing informed my child to "Stop interupting (her)". Honestly, sometimes that style of writing can be done fantastically well and with humour, but Madonna's "wit" and "style" are just rude. There was more than one occasion when we put the book down and considered not reading any more. Unfortunately, we kept going. What a waste of 48-pages.
As for the story, it is basically the simple notion that you shouldn't judge people by their appearances and that even 'perfect' people have problems. A good lesson, but I think it was lost in the last few pages when the girls (named the English Roses) made friends with Binah and they ALL became beautiful and popular and without problems. Hrm.
I give it 2 stars - mainly for the illustrations. They really are gorgeous and they alone are worth the money. The story, however, isn't worth a cent. I don't recommend it at all. Hopefully Madonna's next efforts at writing will be more encouraging!
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
With a distinct narative style ment to be read aloud, this book is a sweet tale of friendship. In the age of Reviving Ophelia, a cautionary tale may be just what we needed.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are even considering buying this bit of tripe from Madonna, my best advice to you is don't. There is absolutely nothing about it to recommend. The text is way too long, poorly written, and not at all interesting. Even the pictures are not enough to keep a young child interested long enough to sit through it. The "moral" isn't even thinly veiled, but is like sitting through a bad sermon. The only reason I can think of that this book was ever published is because of its author. I would give it no stars if the form would let me, and two thumbs down.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Eric G. Patterson on February 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have tried to read this book twice to my girls (who received it as a birthday present), but was not able to make it beyond cliches like "skin like milk and honey" and the narrative's fifth-grade heavy-handedness.
The truly sad thing is there are writers who love kids and appreciate children's literature (as opposed to the highly patronizing Madonna), who have dedicated themselves to writing for children (a finely crafted children's book, a la Sendak, is as hard to write as poetry), yet will not receive one-hundredth the hype and publicity churned for this drek. In fact, many deserving works may not even get published, while Madonna gets signed for a series of five (five!) books.
This trend of authors (Madonna, Jay Leno, Jamie Lee Curtis) published for their celebrity rather than for the quality of their prose reflects a truly sad state within the children's publishing industry. I'd use a more colorful term to describe such children's publishers, but there might be kids reading this review.
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