First edition of The English Roses by Madonna. Their envy of a very pretty, very nice new girl leads four best friends to face the ugly truth about jealousy and exclusion.
Written by Madonna. Illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari. 2003 first edition. Callaway Editions, New York.
"Have you ever heard of the English roses?
Here is what they are not:
A box of chocolates.
A football team.
Flowers growing in the garden.
What they are is this:
Four little girls named
Nicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Grace."
I'm a fan of Madonna...yes, THAT Madonna...and like her children's books. The English Roses is the first of five story books and was followed by 12 chapter books. As a student of Kabbalah, a Jewish spiritual tradition, she followed her instructor's advice and wrote stories that conveyed the wisdom and lessons that she learned.
The English Roses are cute, fun-loving, very stylish Brit girls who are challenged by their envy of a new girl who is the kind of girl people talk about. In a good way. Her name is Binah and she is beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and exceptionally kind. No one talks about them like that. They hate her! Or so they think. It's their envy talking. And so, like brats, they exclude her from their clique.
At a sleepover at Nicole's, her Mum interrupts a pillow-fight to have a heart-to-heart with them over their treatment of Binah. She touches their hearts and as they sleep their minds open to shared dreams of how unfair life is and a picnic and a surprise drop-in from their fairy godmother. She insists on taking them to Binah's house so they can see what her life is really like, and they are shocked to learn that her mother died when she was a little girl and she loves alone with her hard-working Dad. Every day after school she comes home to housework, cooking, and other chores, and she goes to sleep in a humble attic room with a shelf of books and one doll. Only one doll?!
The four friends are so moved by what they see that they embrace Binah as their friend. They even help her with her chores.
Lesson: envy blinds us to the reality of others' lives. Envy no one unless you're prepared to accept the sum total of her life.
Madonna's personality and humor come through in the writing, and Fulvimari's artwork is a riot of Britpop fun. Fulvimari is a U.S. artist known for branded fashion goods and commerial work for a variety of magazines and other clients. He's illustrated all The English Roses books, including the twelve chapter books.
Other Madonna books available at The Charmed Bookshop:
The English Roses
Mr. Peabody's Apples
Yakov and The Seven Thieves
The Adventures of Abdi
Condition*: Fine/Fine. The book includes the original promotional bookmark insert for Mr. Peabody's Apples.
*Based on guidelines of the Independent Online Booksellers' Association.
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