English Roses: Too Good to Be True
What parents need to know
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.
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.
Families can talk 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?