In all of her English Roses books Madonna deals with issues that many tweens may encounter. I wanted to explore Madonna's Books because I was fascinated that my favorite 80's singer had transformed herself into a children's author. I have to say there are probably better books and author's out in the world that portray such tween issues and dilemmas with better solutions. But, her choice of subjects are very real and down earth. Unfortunately, when I was reading about the clique of the roses I was slightly disappointed. The girls in The English Roses are portrayed in the illustrations as all beautiful, thin and popular. It seems to me that there is always a rosy ending for this group of girls. I do not think that Madonna portrays the real world of growing up as an 11 year old. Eleven year old girls are not all beautiful, or popular nor are endings always rosy.
The two chapter books that I read in her series were; The English Roses, Good-bye Grace and The English Roses;The New Girl, both have many similarities. Both books have all 5 girls that are considered The English Roses, I to would it a clique. The characters that are constant in both books are Nicole the brainiac, Grace the jock, Binah the serious one, Amy the fashionista, and Charlotte the posh one. All of the girls are 11 years of age and are in the 6Th grade. Both books are based in England. The girls are best friends and do everything together. Miss Fluffernutter, a teacher in the books, is always mentioned and is sort of silly, unique, and extravagant. According to The English Roses she is the coolest ever.
The English Roses; Good-Bye Grace? Grace who is considered the jock of the clique because she loves soccer. Grace is faced with some communication problems with her parents. We know as parents and kids that we have all experienced this. Her parents are very busy but they always make time for Grace. She notices changes in her house, it looks cleaner. Her mother who never worried prior was fussing over the clutter. There are fresh flowers around and cookies baking in the oven. Grace's parents are constantly going to Paris for meetings. Basically, Grace figures out that her parents are planning to move and sell their house where Grace has been growing up. Dilemma one. What would she do if she moved? She would loose her friends, soccer team and a new boy she met on the field. Dilemma two, she doesn't feel comfortable asking her parents what is going on for fear they will tell her they are moving. The English Roses start playing detective and figure out together that Grace's parents are planning to move. Grace is devastated, sad and scared. Basically with the help of a cranky and impatient fairy godmother, the other English Roses figure out that they could still be The English Roses even if Grace moves to Paris. They can write, email, go on weekend visits and more. After they discuss this with Grace and they all figure out that friendship can last even miles away, Grace gets the nerve to confront her parents. She doesn't move after all and everyone lives happily ever after. Moral of the story... if you have good friends, your friendship will last no matter how close or far apart you are. Communication between parents and children is essential.
The English Roses; The New Girl. Have you ever been the new kid? I have my whole life. I sort of liked this book maybe because I could relate to the tween issue from my own years of adolescence. Nicole, the brainiac of The English Roses has met a friend in the states while her family was there on vacation for the summer. She spent 3 months hanging out with Leslie. Leslie is a cool American Girl who's father is a film director. Leslie is also 11, but looks, dresses and acts like she is 15 or 16. Nicole and Leslie kept in touch by email when vacation was over. Nicole was having a bad day when she opened an email from Leslie who said she would be moving to England for 3 months while her father directed a film. Nicole was thrilled. Once Leslie arrived, it was evident she did not fit in with the "Roses". Nicole started spending all of her time with Leslie and the Roses were not happy. Dilemma one, Nicole was not being a good friend. Dilemma two, Leslie and The other Roses were jealous and envious of each other's friendships with Nicole. Moral of the story, appreciate your friends, all of them equally. The English Roses and Leslie all became friends and they lived happily ever after.
Moral of my Critical Review, I love that Madonna feels compelled to focus on social dilemmas for young girls. Because of her celebrity status, her advice might be well received, but I don't think her books are super captivating. I also commend her on the fact that all of Madonna's proceeds from "The English Roses" series will be donated to Raising Malawi (http://www.raisingmalawi.org/), an orphan-care initiative. But, I don't think her books are super captivating. I do however love the illustrations, whimsical feel and colors in her the books. My biggest complaint about the books are, Madonna does not give recognition to the illustrator on the cover of her books it seems a bit pretentious. I do not like that all of the girls in the books are beautiful, skinny and popular. I do not think this portrays a very good self image for young girls, that may not have these same attributes. Overall the books were OK. Not medal winners but I think if I was 11 years old the colors, design and the overall theme would interest me. I also thought it was kind of cool that The English Roses has a website. Kids can sign up to discuss concerns about dilemmas they may have. You can download pictures, get your horoscope and play some games. Overall I think the The English Roses seemed more like The Cliquey Roses to me. Madonna in my opinion should stick with her fabulous music and then we could all live happily ever after.