The English Roses
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book deals with a group of friends who snub a beautiful girl because they are "green with envy;" ultimately they learn to have empathy for her, and include her. While a picture book, this is really more for the pre-tween crowd: It may be a good bridge for early readers who are feeling too big for picture books but aren't quite ready to tackle chapter books. The Bratz-like appearance of these girls may make some parents cringe -- see our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas for discussing.
What's the story?
Four British girls, all 11 years old, do everything together, including snubbing a beautiful, accomplished neighborhood girl named Binah whom they have never met and who makes them feel jealous. A fairy godmother offers the four the opportunity to see inside Binah's home, where they discover Binah's life is much harder than they would have expected.
Is it any good?
Well-known entertainer Madonna makes her debut as a children's book author with the first in a series of five entertaining books, each based on a different set of emotions. Now a mother herself, Madonna says that she was inspired by her Kabbalah teacher to share with children some of the insights that she gained in her Kabbalah work. Parents may find plotting about a fairy godmother and a lonely girl also seems like well-tread territory, but at least the girls acknowledge it ("'She reminds me of Cinderella,' said Amy"). Likewise, the message about inclusion is a fairly familiar one -- though it is age appropriate for the 6+ kids this book targets.
As illustrated by fashion designer Jeffrey Fulvimari, the characters are wide-eyed, skinny, and fashionably dressed -- a bit like Bratz dolls. Parents might object to their slouchy, skinny-body, big-eyed fashion-model look -- and it's certainly worth addressing -- but it is eye-catching art that works well with the often sassy narration ("Have you ever been green with envy?...If you say no, you are telling a big, fat fib and I am going to tell your mother.") Also, it may help early elementary kids making the transition from picture to chapter books feel like this is a book for THEM.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about friendship. What separates a group of friends from a clique? What would you do in their place? What would happen if Binah's life wasn't so hard?
The girls in this book look more like dolls than real girls. Why do you think the artist chose to draw them that way? Think about Bratz dolls and Barbies -- why are girls often shown with such big eyes and little bodies? Parents may want to check out Common Sense Media's tips for talking to girls about body image.