The English Roses Book Poster Image

The English Roses



Madonna's first book has good message for grade-schoolers.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This book 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. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some discussion ideas. 

Positive messages

A group of friends learn to put aside their jealousy and befriend a lonely girl. Not only do the girls learn not to judge a book by its cover, but they also learn to be grateful for what they have -- and that being a beautiful girl is about how you act. 

Positive role models

The girls are sometimes "green with envy" and at first snub Binah, but ultimately they learn to have empathy for her, and include her.  

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

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.

Book details

Illustrator:Jeffrey Fulvimari
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 24, 2003
Number of pages:46
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 11

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008

Icried Lagugh

The English roses by Madonna is a vry insperaional book about friendship and jelousy.It is about 4 girls name Nicole,Charlette,Amy,and Grace and they have made a group called The English Roses.It is also about a girl name Binah.Binah is a girl in the neboirhood that the English Roses are jelous of.The English roses who are best of friends has sleepover at Nicole's house and there toughts and wonders begin to change! They al have the same dream of Binah and felt guilty because they was treating her so bad. Why did they feel guilty? What was the dream about? And what happens next? If you want the answers to these questions then raed the book!Madonna writes this book like shes talking to a friend and her illastrations are handmade if you really look.Madonna really discribes the charathers and that is why I recemmend this book to all ages and to people who are looking for a friendship and insperional tale!
Educator and Parent Written byJared Galczynski May 31, 2014

Two of My Favorite Names

Rose and Madonna.
Kid, 11 years old June 10, 2012

English roses books are awesome

I have read a number of these books most of them are really good they can also be kind of funny.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models