Madonna: Serge Arnal/ABACA Press/NewsCom
Missy Schwartz
September 26, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the press devoted to last week’s release of Madonna’s ”The English Roses,” her first in a series of five children’s books to be published in the next year, there is a ubiquitous refrain: Madonna, that shrewd provocateur who bared all in 1992’s ”Sex,” and who, last month, smooched Britney and Christina at the MTV Video Music Awards, has penned a book for kids — isn’t it ironic!

Well, no. That Madonna must choose between sexy and chaste (or whatever it is that makes a woman worthy of writing children’s lit) is not just regressive, it’s absurd. True, Madge’s literary excursion could be the latest in the media event that is her life (”Roses”’ initial printing was a staggering 1 million in more than 100 countries), but who cares? The book is gorgeously illustrated, sends a positive message to young girls (beware the perils of jealousy), and donates all of its proceeds to a Los Angeles-based children’s charity.

And for those who accuse the Material Girl of overexposure, get this: Her image is nowhere to be found on the book’s jacket — as if she were just some regular Madonna.

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