English Roses: Too Good to Be True

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
English Roses: Too Good to Be True Book Poster Image
Second story joins Madonna's girl clique.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Girls look like models and are cliquey, but they learn to be kind.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the broad message is positive, though subtle suggestions aren't. The characters are skinny, "Twiggy-type" girls, and even the boy characters look like models. The girls agree that "looks are not everything," but it's hard to believe they mean it. This looks like a picture book, but it's bigger and longer and not a story for young children.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJared Galczynski May 31, 2014
Parent of a 8-year-old Written bysweetpeasmom March 8, 2011

8 and up with discussion about age appropriate behavior and boy girl relationships since the characters are in 8th grade

I picked these books up at a resale shop-I am an artist and I liked the illustrations and thought my 8 year old daughter might like to draw something similar.... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bylinnzze August 31, 2011
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

The five English Roses, now including Binah after Madonna's first English Roses book, are great friends who still do everything together -- that is until new student Dominic de la Guardia joins their 5th grade classroom and jealousy among the girls rears its ugly head.

As Dominic begins to show more of an interest in Binah than in the other girls, the other girls begin snubbing Binah and leaving her out of their usual activities. The problem comes to a head as the class prepares to hold a school dance. However, the ingenuity of their teacher Miss Fluffernutter and the help of the fairy godmother pull things back together.

Is it any good?

All in all, this story is cleverly told and entertaining. Again Madonna employs the classical storytelling technique whereby the narrator interjects comments now and then that playfully chastise the reader. She has also developed several silly characters: the playful, eccentric teacher Mrs. Fluffernutter, the pumpernickel-eating fairy godmother, and the dancing Ferguson boys with their tongue-twisting names Timmy, Terry, Taffy, and Tricky.

In this story, the quintet learns a few lessons about jealousy, this time it's over liking the same boy. While the lessons learned are quite pertinent and discussion-worthy for tween girls, the illustrations don't carry the same positive messages. The characters promote a skinny-model girl image that is already too prevalent in today's media world, and the story seems to condone the idea of the snooty girl clique.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what their kids think of the English Roses: how they dress, how they talk, how they act with one another. Do they understand what the English Roses mean when they say "looks are not everything?" How important are looks to you? Do you relate more to Binah or the other girls? Who would make a better friend? What would you do if your group excluded someone you liked? If you felt excluded, how did you deal with the problem?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate