Madonna news - Sep. 2003


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27 September - UK release dates *rumour*
According to the Madonna Information Report # 1038, the following UK release dates are confirmed:
November 10th - Nothing Fails
November 24th - Box Set (Title to be Advised)
~ As long as there's no official confirmation on Madonna.com, we'll treat this as a rumour. The second children book 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' will be released on November 10th; it wouldn't be a bad idea to link the book with the release of the single. We'll keep you informed.

27 September - Madonna does book-signing in New York
Madonna will visit New York City on Monday (September 29) for a book-signing event at the Rockefeller Center Barnes & Noble store beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. The pop music icon, actress, and best-selling author's first book for children, the English Roses, will enter the New York Times best-seller list in the October 5 edition of the New York Times Book Review. Her work will rank in the Number One spot for children's picture books.
Every customer who purchases a copy of the English Roses at that store on Monday will receive a free limited-edition English Roses poster. The book already debuted on the USA Today best-seller list at Number Seven among all of the books sold in America last week. It's also Number Two on the Amazon.com children's best-seller list and it's the Number One best-seller on bn.com, Barnes & Noble's online bookstore.
The English Roses is a 48-page hardcover book featuring illustrations by renowned fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. It tells a story that emphasizes the importance of compassion and the rewards of friendship among five schoolgirls in contemporary London.
In the UK the book is Number Two on the UK Bookscan children's best seller list, and the book is a best-seller in countries as diverse as Taiwan, Slovenia, and Iceland.
Mr. Peabody's Apples, the second in Madonna's series of five books for children, will be released globally on November 10, 2003. (source: Yahoo! Launch)

27 September - Guy to direct dominatrix-Madonna in Britney video
The video for Britney Spears' forthcoming single will be directed by Guy Ritchie and will also feature the missus. The mockney Lock Stock director will be behind the camera on the shoot for Me Against The Music, in which Madonna, who collaborates on the track, will play a typically modest role. Her Madge will play a leather-clad dominatrix with a string of semi-naked 'bitches' on leashes. It isn't known if Britney will play one of those bitches. The video will see Madonna playing the matriarch of a nightclub, who lures innocent scantily-clad Britney into a private room filled with other scantily-clad young women.
Fans will see parallels with the tongue-fest enjoyed by the two singers at the recent MTV Video Awards, when her Madge took the lead (and saliva) with both Britters and Christina Aguilera. Denials followed, however, with Madonna claiming since that it was the Hit Me Baby singer who instigated the lip-lock. 'In all the rehearsals it was pecking,' Mrs Ritchie swore. No doubt all the rehearsals for the forthcoming video will feature no leather or leashes. Considering how much Guy seemed to enjoy his wife's performance at the MTV show, the Snatch director will have little trouble shooting, though cynics suggest it isn't a good idea for the couple to work together again, ever, after Swept Away. (source: PeopleNews)

25 September - English Roses in the US
Madonna has another No. 1 hit, this time on the book charts. The singer's children's story, "The English Roses," was published simultaneously around the world Sept. 15 and will top The New York Times' children's list for the Oct. 5 edition. "It demonstrates once again that Madonna has an extraordinary gift for communicating with children of all ages," Nicholas Callaway, CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, the book's U.S. publisher, said in a statement Thursday. According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales in the United States, Madonna's book sold 57,369 copies in its first full week, ranking No. 5 overall. The top seller was Dr. Phil McGraw's "The Ultimate Weight Solution," with sales of 215,536. (source: AP)
This week, The English Roses is at no. 7 the US Top 150 best-selling books list (based on sales through Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003). It's even no. 1 in the list of children's books! (source: USA Today)

25 September - English Roses fastest-selling children book in UK
The literary debut by pop star Madonna has exceeded expectations in its first week in British shops, becoming the country's fastest-selling children's picture book ever, its publishers said. "The English Roses", chronicling the ostracism of a little girl by her peers for the seemingly unlikely reasons of her being too beautiful and clever, sold 10,000 copies in its first week of sale, publishers Puffin said. This placed it second in the children's best-seller lists, just behind "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", the fifth installment in J.K. Rowling's series about the boy wizard. That book sold a somewhat more spectacular 1.8 million copies in its first day of release in June. Nonetheless, bookshops professed themselves delighted with sales of "The English Roses", which features illustrations by Jeffrey Fulvimari and was released simultaneously in 100 countries. "The English Roses is performing beyond all expectations. It is selling incredibly well," said a spokesman for the Waterstone's chain. (source: AFP)

25 September - Madonna in video for Me Against The Music
Britney's official site has said that the video of Me Against The Music will premiere on MTV's Making The Video on October 13. Madonna apparently has been confirmed to be in the video and it should begin shooting within the next few days. (source: Absolute Madonna)

25 September - 8000 copies of The English Roses sold in UK
Madonna's children's book The English Roses has sold just over 8,000 copies in its first week in the UK. The book, launched amid a blaze of publicity, made it to number 17 in the national book chart, according to data company Nielsen Bookscan. It was the second bestselling children's book of the week, behind JK Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book. This week the top-selling book in the UK, David Beckham's autobiography My Side, sold 103,508 copies. Madonna's book, her first for children, has been translated into 42 languages and is on sale in 100 countries. The English Roses sold 8,270 copies in its opening week, 220 copies fewer than the number one children's book, JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was first published in June. The Harry Potter book, which also backed by a massive marketing campaign, sold more than 1.7 million copies in the UK on it first day of release three months ago through bookshops and the internet. To mark the launch of The English Roses, Madonna threw a tea party in Kensington, west London, on 14 September inviting friends and celebrities and their children , including actress Patsy Palmer and interior designer Linda Barker. The guests were invited to walk up a pink, sparkly carpet, surrounded by barriers adorned with butterflies and roses. Madonna then read an extract of the book, aimed at children over the age of six, to the assembled young audience. Children's poet Michael Rosen commented that in the book "Madonna takes on the voice of a slightly bossy teacher, telling her readers to not interrupt and to listen carefully" in a review of The English Roses for BBC News Online. (source: BBC, thanx to Krissy)

23 September - Joe Henry collaboration for musical *rumour*
Madonna has said before that she's working on a musical. According to some sources, her brother-in-law Joe Henry (Guilty By Association, Don't Tell Me) has announced in an interview that he's collaborating on the project and that Madonna is to take the leading role. More info as soon as it's available! (thanx to Dot's Gugarko, and to Tony for directing my attention to it ;-)

23 September - Lyrics of 'Me Against The Music'
BMG Brasil has posted the lyrics of 'Me Against The Music', Britney's new single featuring Madonna. Read them here.

23 September - Love Profusion remix? *rumour*
This weekend the Chicago nightclub "Hydrate" had a huge premiere weekend for it's resident DJ/Production team "Rosabel" (Ralphie Rosario, & Abel Aguilar). You might remember them from TONS of Gloria Estefan remixes as well as Amber, Donna Summer, M Street, Ultra Nate, Donna Blakely, etc... and the number one club hit, "You Used to Hold Me" Saturday night Ralphie Rosario took to the turntables and at precisely 1:00 AM, he world premiered the teams OFFICIAL remix of Love Profusion. A very dark and energetic remix, that has a great intro build and then goes into an amazing vocal with Maddy singing the vocals very boldly!
Apparently when Madonna was here in Chicago 2 weeks ago for the taping of the Oprah Show, she sqeezed in a 3-4 hour studio recording session, where she re-recorded part of the vocals for the track. The re-recorded vocals give the mix a very new harder edge. The vocals are not much different from the original except they are harder and more intense.
Ralphie said Madonna and Warner were still not sure of the release date for the song but that Warner is still planning on releasing Love Profusion as a single! Ralphie has been a great friend of mine for years, and is very professional. If he knew the release date, I'm sure he would have told me! This is the team's second official Madonna remix, back in 1994 they were commissioned along with David Morales, Roger Sanchez, Mark Picchiotti & Teri Bristol to remix Bedtime Story for the Chapter II release, but the Picchiotti & Bristol remixes were the ones that Warner released. (source: Madonna Power)
~ So far there are rumours about remixes for Nothing Fails, Nobody Knows Me and Love Profusion, while none has been officially confirmed as single. It's about time Warners starts clearing up some things...

23 September - Calendar 2004 / ICON 39
Madonna calendar 2004 Madonna's new 2004 calendar will be shipping this Friday, Sept 26th. If you want to be included in the initial shipment, make sure you pre-order your calendar today. This beautiful calendar is packed with images of Madonna for all year.
Also, the next issue of ICON, Madonna's fan club magazine, will be shipping within the next two weeks. ICON 39 has articles on American Life, Will & Grace, Herb Ritts, and loads more. If you are already a member, you will get yours soon. If you are not a member yet, click here to find out how to join. ICON 40 will be shipping before the end of the year and will include a special pull out poster. (source: Madonna.com)

22 September - Oprah transcript
I've seen the latest Oprah Winfrey show with Madonna. To open the show, Madonna and Oprah get into the groove with the GAP dancers. Then they talk about the English Roses, the principles of the Kabbalah, working and living with Guy, and the effect that her children have on Madonna's life. According to Madonna, Lourdes isn't aware of her mum's sexy alter-ego. They call paparazzies "bunnies" that follow them around. Talking about her kiss with Britney, Madonna says she doesn't understand what the fuss is about, and that it wasn't intended as a provocation.
All in all, no shocking news in this interview, but fun to watch anyway. You can read the transcript of the Oprah interview at the site of MarknDC. You can alo download the entire interview in .wmv format at MadonnaInter.net.

22 September - What if Madonna had kissed Pink? It almost happened
It was a moment that captivated the nation, but what would it have been like if Madonna had picked different kissmates for her VMA performance? As it turns out, Pink was supposed to be there too. "It was originally supposed to be different people involved," Pink told MTV News Europe, "but I didn't even know [what was going to happen during the performance]. The kiss wasn't even talked about." Rumors had been rampant before the Video Music Awards that Madonna would be taking the stage with representatives of the younger pop generation, but talk had centered mostly on Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Pink escaped the rumor mill because she backed out before rehearsals began. "I had one vacation all year," Pink explained, "and I was not leaving my vacation to go into a rehearsal studio, which sounds ridiculous, but you know, I just said, 'I can't be at those rehearsals, but I can learn it for that day, and I'm sure that I'll be more than capable of doing it.' " That proposal, however, wasn't acceptable, and Pink was taken out of the running. But since she was only apprised of the singing aspect of the performance, not the kissing, it begs the question: Had scheduling not been a problem, would she have been willing to make out with Madonna? She says yes and insists she's amused that the same-sex liplock generated so many headlines. "I'm very surprised that kisses, or girl-on-girl, or guy-on-guy, is that interesting still, to this day," she laughed. (source: MTV)

21 September - Nothing Fails for November 20th?
Peter Rauhofer has recently added his new remix of Madonna's Into the Hollywood Groove to his Roxy airplay, as well as his newly finished remix of Nothing Fails which is scheduled for release November 10th. His remixes of Nobody Knows Me are to be the b-sides!
Peter is currently in the studio remixing Madonna & Britney Spears' upcoming single "Me Against the Music". (source: Peter Rauhofer.com; thanx to MIR)

18 September - Q Mag now available
Madonna on the cover of Q Magazine Q magazine celebrates the 20th anniversary of Madonna's first album with a 148-page, full-colour, luxury special collector's edition, containing...
* Classic Madonna interviews from 1983-2003
* Rare and unseen photographs
* Madonna Revealed! What is she really like?
* From The Virgin Tour to Drowned World: Madonna Live!
* The Top 20 Madonna Songs - as voted by fans everywhere
* On sale from 26 September.
Available in all good newsagents, price £5.99. Or by ordering online from here.
(source: Madonna.com)

18 September - Madonna accused of religious influence on children
Madonna is coming under attack for preaching her new religion to children. The singer has penned a much-hyped kiddie's book "The English Roses," a tale about the hazards of jealousy. Madonna has said the book was inspired by her studies of Kabbalah, an esoteric form of Judaism, but some critics are charging that she's using her fame to proselytize her beliefs to impressionable youngsters. "Star Launches Kids' Book Based on the Kabbalah Cult," read one UK headline. "As Madonna Pens Children's book on Kabbalah, Is the Sect Exploiting Her Devotion to It?" asks another headline, which goes on to discuss the "Cult Guru and his Rich Puppets." Fodder for the critics is that the book’s main character is Binah, which is Hebrew for wisdom.
Madonna’s spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment. (source: MSNBC)

18 September - English Roses review: Madonna Don't Preach
I miss Madonna. Not this new Madonna, who, while we weren't looking, apparently turned into Kathie Lee Gifford. I miss the old one, the rule- breaker, the one who could be counted on to scandalize. When I reviewed the old Madonna's photo book "Sex," back in 1992, I was way more popular around the office than today, when all I've got is her first children's book, "The English Roses." With "Sex," every male within earshot found some excuse to saunter by my desk and, oh, by the way, take a little look-see at the book. By contrast, no one has been interested in "The English Roses," not even the women. And who can blame them? Of the two, "Sex" is the better book. That photo of her hitchhiking in the nude, accessorized only by a purse and a cigarette, is memorable to this day. Meanwhile, I can barely remember "The English Roses," the first of five Madonna-penned books scheduled for printing. And I just read it three hours ago.
The English Roses of the title are four neighborhood girls of 11 who treat a fifth girl shabbily because they are envious of her beauty. At a slumber party, the mother of one of the girls urges them to be nice to the outcast. That night they each dream that a fairy godmother gives them a tour of the girl's house. It turns out her mother is dead and she lives a lonely, chore-ridden life. Upon waking, the English Roses realize they are lucky to have their lives instead of hers, and vow to A) be nicer to her, and B) quit complaining about their own lives. The moral of the story could be summed up thus: "See? Mother was Right." And this from the woman who made waves singing Papa Don't Preach.
Life moves on, and Madonna has gone from being the consummate rule-breaker to being the ultimate rule-enforcer, an uber- mother lecturing not only her own children, but everybody else's as well. What child wants to read a book in which Mom proves them wrong again? Nearly all successful children's literature -- from the Brothers Grimm to Nancy Drew -- gets the adults out of the way in the first chapter so the fun can begin. Instead, we get a plodding and didactic missive deep from the woods of Mommyville. It is void of any adventure, any danger, any deliciously forbidden feelings. There are a few glimmers of clever language, but not nearly enough to satisfy the listening needs of a 6- or 8-year-old. (The illustrations, by Jeffrey Fulrimari, are terrific.) It's not particularly important that this is inept children's literature. Children's librarians and children themselves have a knack for discovering the good stuff. Neither were counting on Madonna's help. No, it's mothers who stand to be disappointed. Any woman who re-invented the cone bra as outerwear has the creativity to write a terrific children's book. Unfortunately, the truly scary message from this one is that motherhood makes you dull. (source: Newark Star Ledger)

18 September - Oops! Madonna is Britney's mentor
Madonna and Britney Spears' raunchy kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards seems to have worked wonders for the young singer, who feels the episode has made her mature as an artist. According to a report in Ratethemusic.com, the blonde is all in awe of the Material Girl and is grateful for her guidance since their on-stage smooch, which created a media fervour. The "Oops!...I Did It Again" singer is desperate to prove her mettle and convince fans that she has "grown up". Close friends insist that apart from influencing Britney's career makeover, the Evita star has also been instrumental in converting Spears to the Jewish cult of Kabbalah, which she follows. "Madonna has become a real mentor to Britney. They spent a lot of time rehearsing for the MTV awards and Madonna has converted Britney to the cult. Britney is desperate to prove she's grown up and was delighted with Madonna being her mentor," a close pal was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, the Sun and Teen Hollywood reported that the pop diva is all set to lend her vocal skills to Britney Spears' next single, "Me Against The Music", which will be the first single from Britney's 'Get In The Zone' album, out on November 17. (source: Sify)

17 September - Oprah excerpts
Oprah: Was [kissing Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards] planned, or spontaneous?
Madonna: It was meant to be a playful, ironic comment on the bride and groom kissing. I had two brides (Britney and Christina Aguillera), and I was going to kiss both of my brides. In all of the rehearsals, it was very [innocent]. If Britney looks like she was kissing me in an aggressive manner, it was a surprise to me! I'm a showgirl, and after 20 years in show business, we learn to roll with the punches. You get a lemon, you make lemonade; if someone comes at you with their lips slightly parted, you have to kiss them! It was totally meant in innocence and fun, and I don't know why people are making such a big deal out of it.
Oprah: Are you still the 'Material Girl?'
Madonna: I'm so not the material girl. There were many years in my life where I thought fame, fortune and public approval would bring me happiness. After I made Evita, I won a Golden Globe, and I was about to have a baby. I felt like I had everything, but something was missing—an understanding of who I really was. … Up until that point, I felt I was controlled by the ups and downs in my life.
Oprah: Was there something in particular that happened for you to change?
Madonna: The biggest thing was probably that I was about to become a parent. I wanted to understand what I was going to teach my daughter. I didn't really understand where I stood on things. I think that was my wake-up call. I wanted to understand how I was going to go about finding true and lasting happiness in my life and how I was going to teach that to my daughter.
Oprah: Do you think so far you've been able to present Lourdes with a normal childhood?
Madonna: Yeah, I do, as normal as it could be. When we get home and the doors are closed, we don't play up the idea that there are celebrities living in the house. We don't talk about fame, we don't have magazines in the house and we don't watch television. We're cut off from that. … She knows I sing and dance for a living. She's been to a million photo shoots, and knows that's Mom's work.
Oprah: What do you think now when you look back at some of those years…all the girls who were imitating you and wanted the illusion of what you had?
Madonna: I think, "wow, I had a huge desire to receive." I had big dreams, I was ambitious, courageous and provocative, but I didn't have the whole picture of life. But I did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had.
Oprah: And when you know better, you do better.
Madonna: Exactly.
(source: Oprah.com, thanx to Clare)

17 September - The English Roses are Lola's friends
Madonna has come a long way since she published her last book, "Sex" -- and she's the first one to agree. The controversial singer released her first children's book, "The English Roses," Monday. She says when she published "Sex," she was interested in pushing boundaries and questioning taboos and showing off. Or, as she put it, "I was interested in myself." She said that book was about her, while her children's books are about sharing wisdom with children. "The English Roses" is the first of five children's books Madonna plans to publish. Madonna said she isn't writing children's books to become more famous. She says it's because she wants to share something she knows. "The English Roses" is about four friends who are jealous of a classmate. Madonna, who has studied ancient Jewish mystical tradition, says her kabbalah teacher suggested she write the books as a form of sharing. Madonna wasn't happy with the idea, but changed her mind when she realized the books she was reading her 7-year-old daughter Lourdes didn't have many spiritual lessons. She says writing for children is the most fun she's ever had of all the things she's done creatively. Lourdes loves the book. However, Madonna said her son is only 3 and "if it's not about a truck or a car, he's not interested." Madonna chose the name "The English Roses" for her children's book because it turns out her daughter knows them personally. Lourdes goes to a French school in London. Madonna went to a meeting with Lourdes' teacher and asked if Lourdes had a lot of friends. The teacher said yes, Lourdes hangs out with the English roses. Madonna had no idea what that meant. The teacher explained the English roses were four girls who stick together because they're English and nearly everyone else in the school is French. Madonna thought that was cute -- and she snagged the idea for her book's title. (source: News4Jax)

17 September - Madonna featured on new Britney single
Britney's official website announces that Madonna will feature on Britney's new single 'Me Against The Music', which is the first single for her 4th studio album 'Get In The Zone'. The single will hit radio soon and the video will premiere on MTV's Making The Video on October 13th. It hasn't been specified yet exactly what input Madonna has in the song. More info soon!

17 September - Pupils hear Madonna's morality tale
In the reading corner at Islington's Hugh Myddleton primary school, year four stopped maths to hear a new book. The eight- and nine-year-olds were not sure if they would have been that excited about a new book if it had not been written by the pop icon Madonna. "Didn't she kiss a girl, or was that Britney Spears?" wondered one boy, who knew her "from the newspapers".
The English Roses, published yesterday, had the biggest simultaneous world launch in publishing history in 30 languages and 100 countries. A story of four well-dressed and unwittingly bitchy girls, it purports to be a morality tale drawn from the Kabbalah, the school of Jewish mysticism which Madonna has studied for some years. When the four girls realise their beautiful, but ostracised, classmate has no mother and does all the cleaning at home, they relent and let her come on their picnics.
After the pop, the Hollywood films, the nudity and the foray on to the West End stage, Madonna, 45, aims to resuscitate her serious side with five children's morality tales by 2004. But like her London theatre debut, the book has had a mixed reception. First impressions have ranged from "a fabulous, affirmative ending" to suggestions that with "no characterisation, no story and a flat tone" it would never have been published if not for the name on the spine.
In year four, at least 10 pupils said their mothers had Madonna's albums. But Madonna was best known to the children "for those new adverts for trousers for the Gap". The global branding message aimed at the pop star's target audience of six- to nine-year-olds had clearly been achieved. The clothing chain, Gap, is stocking Madonna's book as part of its advertising deal.

Whether children can afford to buy the English Roses is a different issue. "Twelve pounds, ninety-nine pence? No way, it's more than Harry Potter," said Wasif. "Can I get it out of the library?"

It struck a painful chord with the children who had been bullied. "It teaches you that instead of leaving people out because you are different to them, you should let them join in," said Alexis. Amy, who identified with the bullied Binah, said: "It teaches you should be nice to people who are new to your school." "It makes me feel like I did when it happened to me," said Jago. "It teaches you bullying is wrong." She admitted that other stories, poems and school lessons taught her bullying was wrong. Madonna's book, which was "like Cinderella", was not new.

But the pop star's finger-wagging narratorial style sometimes hit a blank wall. "Now stop interrupting me," says the narrator as if from nowhere. Year four, who had sat silent, patiently listening, looked faintly startled.

The bright, supermodel-style illustrations by the fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari were well received. "That's Barbie" and "that's Kylie" came the cries from the floor. "It looks like it was done on the internet," said Wasif, impressed. Meanwhile Madonna appeared at the book's Paris launch last night, recovering from her announcement that she did not know who Enid Blyton was. Asked in London if she aimed to be the next Blyton, the American-born star looked blank and asked: "Who is that? Is she good?" (source: The Guardian)


17 September - Mothers talk about English Roses

Madonna has kissed Brittany, appeared in GAP ads with Missy and turned prissy all in the last two weeks. The multi-faceted singer was also on Oprah Tuesday promoting her new children's book, "The English Roses". It's a book that teaches lessons of acceptance.

"If I leaned over and kissed you right now it would probably make national news, we could fly to New York and be on Howard Stern tomorrow but would that advance my career as a children's author? I certainly hope not and I think that's something to keep in mind do you want that person coming into your home as an author for a children's book I don't think so, I don't as a mother," said Kat Shehata, local children's author. Shehata isn't thrilled that Madonna's book has shot to number one on Amazon's children's bestseller list.

But others say she deserves it. "She's also a mom and I think that's part of the reason she wrote this book. I mean everyone changes, I really... it's a good book to get," said Virginia Mulholland, Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Can the woman known for her sex book and racy videos dazzle a new younger audience? 9News' Andrea Canning read the book to some girls at Cornerstone Montessouri in Dayton, Kentucky. They gave a thumbs up for the book but they didn't want to talk about Madonna, just her message. "To be nice to people not to judge how they look and act," said one student. "It teaches kids to be nice to people that they don't really know," another student said. "I was a little apprehensive because of her reputation but actually she's matured, it's good for pre-teen girls so they don't judge other people and who knows better about judging then Madonna cause she's been judged," said Jeannine Gallenstein, mother. (source: WCPO)


17 September - Children authors bemoan English Roses

Katie Couric's got one. So does John Travolta. Not to mention Jerry Seinfeld, Judge Judy and Olivia Newton-John. And now, make way for Madonna.

With Monday's release of "The English Roses," ($19.95, Callaway Editions) the Material Girl joins the long line of celebrities who have penned and published children's books. As usual, Madonna -- who says she was inspired by reading bedtime stories to her daughter -- entered the fray with no shortage of drama. Publishers in at least 30 countries took the unusual step of embargoing the title for simultaneous worldwide release. Even booksellers were allowed to view only a few pages before placing their orders. Within hours of its release, it climbed to the No. 6 spot on Amazon.com's sales list and was poised to climb higher. Proceeds will be donated to charity. Because of the strict secrecy surrounding the book, reviewers are just beginning to weigh in on the question of Madonna's literary talents. Still, publishers have already promised a series of five Madonna storybooks. The initial print run of "The English Roses" is 1 million worldwide, with more than 750,000 copies in America, according to the publisher. Clearly, a celebrity name on the cover provides a strong selling point for publishers. But that doesn't mean the books will also get respect.

"People think that because they can act and they can sing they can sit down and write a children's book," laments Linda Duncan, a children's specialist for Contra Costa County libraries. "What really irritates me is that they always seem to choose a children's picture book. Those are actually the most difficult things to write. They're so short that every word is crucial." Skeptical? Just pick up a classic like "Where the Wild Things Are" or "Goodnight Moon," says Duncan, and you'll notice how perfectly the language has been chosen. "To me, (the celebrity books) kind of demean children's literature," she adds. "It's a big insult," agrees Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, the Pleasant Hill author of several children's books. "Many of us feel upset when we hear about another celebrity author." "Writing is a lot of work, and people don't know that you work," says Koehler-Pentacoff, who's also written a how-to guide called "The ABC's of Writing for Children."

"People think you just sit down and you start writing.... It's not an easy job, it's very difficult, and it takes years to get something published." The popularity of celebrity authorship, says Koehler-Pentacoff, reflects a larger shift in children's publishing: the growing financial pressures that make marketing ever-more important. Still, she tries to look on the bright side when stars reap publicity and acclaim for often mediocre efforts: "I try to think, maybe that book made a lot of money, maybe that editor was able to buy a quality book from another unknown author who otherwise night not have been published." Critics have soundly lambasted many celebrity picture books, including those penned by Couric, Sarah Ferguson, Dr. Laura and Carly Simon.

But everyone agrees that a few titles do stand on their own merit. "Jamie Lee Curtis' books are consistently good," says Duncan. "Her use of language is good, they have child appeal, and they're fun to read ... Basically, she can write." Koehler-Pentacoff says she's proud to own several children's books written by Fred Gwynne, better known to TV fans as Herman Munster. "His stuff was fabulous," she says. "He was an extremely talented man." And Julie Andrews' books, first published decades ago under the pen name Julie Edwards, are counted among children's classics, notes Michael Barnard, owner of Danville's Rakestraw Books. Barnard, whose store is known for its strong children's selection, says he's enjoyed one of the books from actor John Lithgow, and last week was holding out hope for Madonna's book: "The pages I saw were very pretty and it seemed nice." Still, he says, "I think the most exciting stuff in children's books is still coming out of non-celebrity writers." Barnard laments that what seems to capture the media's attention about children's literature seems to have little to do with the books themselves. "News is about what's extraordinary," he explains, "but there's so much fantastic original stuff by people who are doing this day in and day out." (source: Contra Costa Times)


17 September - The English Roses storyline

The English Roses tells the story of four little girls—Nicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Grace—who are eleven years old and the very best of friends. "They are practically glued to each other at the hip," writes Madonna in her book, and they are all "a little bit jealous of another girl in the neighborhood"—a beautiful girl named Binah, whose seemingly perfect life makes them "green with envy." However, when a feisty, pumpernickel-loving fairy godmother takes them on a magical journey, they learn to their great surprise that Binah's life is not nearly as enviable as it had seemed. The English Roses is an inspiring story about the importance of compassion and the rewards of friendship.

Madonna drew on her own experiences while writing this book. "As a child, I experienced jealousy and envy toward other girls for any number of reasons: I was jealous they had mothers, jealous they were prettier and richer," she says. "It isn't until you grow up that you realize what a waste of time those feelings are."

Publisher Nicholas Callaway says, "I believe The English Roses and the four books to follow are destined to become contemporary classics. They are surprisingly traditional, in the best sense. The stories are delightful, the art is exquisite, and the characters are endearing. Madonna has brilliantly captured the playful spirit of girls together with their friends. All five books convey important and encouraging messages for children of all ages—even grown-up ones. It has been a great partnership working with Madonna on this project," he continues. "She is a creative engine with an unerring eye and an absolutely clear idea of the finished work. I see how she has achieved her incomparable success: she has earned it — every day." Callaway adds, "Jeffrey Fulvimari—in this, his first book—has perfectly complemented Madonna's story with a visual narrative that is stylish, timeless, and enchanting to children."

The highest production standards mark the creation of The English Roses , which features premium paper, state-of-the-art digital prepress and printing, and a matte-laminated jacket with a shiny "lip gloss" effect. Collectible first edition copies are enclosed in an eye-popping, polka-dotted slipcase and are available in limited quantities. The English Roses is the first of five children's books by Madonna, each set in a different time and place, featuring a new cast of characters brought to life by celebrated illustrators from around the world. The second book, 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' will be released worldwide on November 10th, 2003. (source: Madonna.com)


16 September - Madonna mixes friendship, fashion in book

Madonna at the launch of The English Roses in Paris Madonna at the launch of The English Roses in Paris Once upon a time, there was a girl named Madonna who loved to sing, dance and dress up. As a grown-up, she sang, danced and dressed up in ever-new and flamboyant styles, and the world loved her for it. But she wanted to do more. She tried acting — the world didn't like that so much. So she thought she'd write a book for children. The result is "The English Roses," the first of five planned kids' tales written by Madonna and zestily illustrated by American fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. A slight volume, about and largely aimed at young girls, the book was published Monday in superstar quantities — 1 million copies in 30 languages, from Estonian to Faroese. Proceeds from sales are going to charity.

The titular Roses are four young school friends who live in an idealized funky, leafy London, full of picnics, ice-skating and pajama parties. They have fabulous clothes and great accessories, but they envy and ostracize another girl, Binah, who is pretty, athletic, kind and has "silky hair and skin like milk and honey." By story's end — with the help of a fairy godmother and some magic dust — the Roses mend their ways and discover that Binah's life is, well, no bed of roses. Madonna's authorial tone is matter-of-fact and agreeable, if a tad flat. The book is not likely to be a vocabulary-builder, but it trots along pleasantly enough, with the occasional tart interjection from the author: "Now," she writes at one point, "stop interrupting me."

Fulvimari's fashion background shows in his angular, boldly colored illustrations — the Roses dress as stylishly as supermodels — and he borders each of the pages with little roses or bright patterns, giving plenty for young readers to look at. Madonna has said the tale draws on the teachings of Kabbalah, the school of Jewish mysticism she has studied for several years. She has said she based the characters on her 6-year-old daughter Lourdes' London classmates, and the story on Lourdes' struggle as the daughter of a superstar. "In school often children can be quite mean and ostracize her because I'm her mother," Madonna told Britain's Sunday Times. "Everyone thinks, 'She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her.'" "The English Roses" has a simple moral: don't judge people by appearances, and don't envy others' apparent good fortune. "Easy for her to say," you might think. But that would be unkind, wouldn't it, children? (source: AP)


16 September - Mixed reviews for author Madonna

Twelve years after Madonna gave adults the raunchy picture-book SEX, she has turned to a younger audience. Her children's book, The English Roses, enjoyed a wide release yesterday, appearing in 100 countries and in 30 languages — including Estonian and Faroese. The story, illustrated by American fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari, tells the tale of a talented and attractive young schoolgirl who is shunned by four other girls out of jealousy.

Madonna, who is 45, has said she conceived The English Roses as the first of five children's books derived from the Kabbalah, the system of Jewish mystical thought which she has been studying for seven years. Her daughter Lourdes, who is 7, was the inspiration for the heroine, she told The Times Magazine in London. In Lourdes' London school "children can be quite mean and ostracize her because I'm her mother," Madonna said. "Everyone thinks, `She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her.'" In Madonna's book, the girls being mean, who are remarkably thin, well dressed and delicately featured themselves, eventually discover their nemesis is not so bad and invite her into their clique.

As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday, Amazon.com listed The English Roses (retailing in Canada for $28) at No. 6 on its U.S. bestseller list. Canadian buyers appeared to be less enthralled as Amazon.ca ranked the book at No. 82. Jill Lawless, a London-based Associated Press book reviewer, said although the volume isn't likely to be a vocabulary-builder, it "trots along pleasantly enough." "Madonna's authorial tone is matter-of-fact and agreeable, if a tad flat," she added. As of noon yesterday, Eleanor LaFave of Mabel's Fables bookstore in Toronto said she'd received no calls enquiring about the book. She expected to see a greater response after Madonna appears on Oprah today. Nancy Frater, owner of Booklore in Orangeville, also expects the book to find an audience. "I think it's going to sell well, but we have to wait until the jury's in about the quality of the book," she said. "Some people could look at it and say `Oh it's just another celebrity writing a book.' But we shouldn't short-change it."

Adel Khalaf, who describes herself as a Madonna freak, said she heard about the book early yesterday, and scrambled to find a copy. She found one at the Eaton Centre Indigo."I've already read part of the book and it seems really good — the illustrations are great," she said. "I want to see what her writing is like in terms of relating to her kids." Some buyers of the book have already posted reviews on Amazon.com. Madonna fan Benjamin Davis of London gave the book five stars while U.S. poster Michael E. Walker gave it only one, saying "Please do not purchase this. It is totally unacceptable. This is just her way of cashing in on motherhood." (source: Toronto Star)


16 September - Mysticism inspires Madonna's children's book

Material Girl no more? Madonna says writing children's books is more fulfilling than being a pop chart queen or a movie star. Her book, The English Roses, went on sale Monday, appearing in 100 countries and in 30 languages as the first in her series of five tales for children. The pop diva, whose only book until now was the racy 1992 photo essay titled Sex, said she wrote the books to teach children some of the life lessons she's learned over the years. "The most fun that I've had of all the things I've done creatively has been to write these books," she told reporters in Paris, where the book's 32 publishers were gathered. "A lot of it has to do with the fact I'm not doing it to become more famous, and I'm not doing it to become richer. I'm not doing it because I think it's cool," Madonna said. "I'm doing it because I want to share something I know with children." Hours after its release, the 48-page book was already No. 8 on Amazon.com's sales list. The initial print run is one million copies worldwide, with more than 750,000 in the United States, publisher Callaway Editions said. Proceeds will go to charity.

The English Roses is about a friendship shared by four girls and their mutual envy of a beautiful classmate, with illustrations by fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. The inspiration for the five books - coming editions will focus on sharing, accepting mistakes and other themes - came from her study of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, she said. "There is one life-giving force in the world," Madonna declared. "When we disconnect from this life-giving force, that's when we bring chaos and pain and suffering into our lives. Each of the stories have to do with different ways you disconnect from God." Madonna also said she was profoundly influenced by the experience of raising two children, Lourdes, 6, and Rocco, 3. Lourdes, whom Madonna calls Lola, was a trusted adviser when it came to writing the book, the singer said. Even if profit is not a motive, Madonna showed she still knows how to sell. In addition to a worldwide release, the book will be publicized in an hour-long Madonna appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Wednesday.

Nicholas Callaway, chairman and CEO of Callaway Arts and Entertainment, said the idea of Madonna as a writer of children's books came to him when he saw her read one to teens on MTV. He mentioned the idea several times to her - until one day last year he received five manuscripts in the mail. "As soon as I read them, it confirmed everything that I felt from that first moment," he said, adding that the stories as she has written them required very little editing. The English Roses is the latest among a growing number of celebrity-written children's books. John Lithgow's new I'm a Manatee is the actor's fourth children's book for Simon & Schuster, and Julie Andrews is heading up her own imprint at HarperCollins. The next book in the series, Mr. Peabody's Apples, will be out in November. Each tale is set in a different time and place and features new characters and different illustrators. Callaway Editions, based in New York, has licensed book rights to 32 publishing houses, including Gallimard Jeunesse in France and Hanser Verlag in Germany. Penguin Group is distributing the book in the United States, and Puffin will publish it in other English-language markets. (source: CTV)

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