Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Madonna, My Confessions

I have to admit that I didn't think I'd ever get around to reading The English Roses by Madonna. Something about the idea repelled me: did I believe, perhaps, that this most recent self-invention of the popstar could not be much more impressive to me than her non-literary pursuits? I couldn't tell you.

I will say that I was nicely surprised. The narrative style is engrossing, the narrator engaging and the messages were, if not original, effective. (After all, how many original messages in children's literature are available to the writer?)

What impressed me was a motif about the tendency to form cliques. Madonna doesn't sugarcoat the fact that young girls can be mean; what she offers is the message that girls, if encouraged to empathize, are capable of stepping on firmer ground from which to form their beliefs. The clique doesn't disappear--because that would be an unrealistic expectation in the reader--it grows, it matures.

I love the illustrations by Jeffrey Fulvimari whose name, I note, tends to disappear in the Madonna glare. The colours are bright, feminine-looking in combination and characteristic of youthful tastes. There is also an elegance found not only in the textures (metallic adornment, striped and geometric furnishings) but also in both the figures and features of the characters: large eyes, larger-but-well-defined faces).

I will read this to my little girl when she's older (between 5 and 8 years of age). At that point, she may even read it herself.

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