Madonna's Children's Stories
Madonna has written a series of five children's stories. The fifth, Lotsa de Casha, at the time of my writing (December 2004) has not yet been published.
Madonna has said that she wanted to write "stories that can help children" and for each story she has provided an idea of the essence behind the tale.
The first story, The English Roses, deals with "jealousy and envy"; in the second, Mr Peabody's Apples, the theme is the "power of our words"; the third book, Yakov and the Seven Thieves focusses on the "transformative power of prayer"; the fourth work, The Adventures of Abdi, looks at the "power of certainty" and Lotsa de Casha deals with the "secret to happiness".
I have now read two of Madonna's books. Of course, I have a problem reviewing them in that I am not a child. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts on The English Roses and Yakov and the Seven Thieves.
At the party to celebrate the launch of The English Roses in the UK the BBC reported:
"Madonna read extracts of the book to the young audience, but had to silence a few boisterous boys who were interrupting the reading".
This fits in with a feeling I had when I read the book - that it was very much aimed at girls. After all, the book's main character are all girls and the style of the illustrations are (applying the mind of a young boy) what I would call girly.
There is always the danger of being slightly pretentious and reading things into the text things the author didn't mean, but I wonder whether the name of the heroine, Binah, is because that is the term in the Kabbalah for the Sefirah of Understanding and that once they had insight through a dream to stop "compaining about their own lives" then it happened that "everywhere the English Roses went, Binah went with them."
Madonna has referred to a parallel with her daughter, Lola's, situation. She told the Sunday Times : "In school often children can be quite mean and ostracise her because I'm her mother. Everyone thinks, 'She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her."
In summary, I can imagine a young girl might like The English Roses, but defintely not one for the majority of boys.
On the other hand, I enjoyed, Yakov and the Seven Thieves and I believe this could appeal to both boys and girl. I think adults would be impressed by the illustrations. I found them wonderful.
The book has more substance to it than The English Roses and its didactic quality is more subtle. It was also encouraging to see the dedication was to 'naughty children everywhere' and had a less goody-two-shoes feel.
I would recommend Yakov and the Seven Thieves.
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