Never one to settle for simple success, Madonna (with licensing company Signatures Network) is launching a merchandise line starring the characters from her best-selling children's book, ''The English Roses.'' Binah-and-friends-themed products such as dolls, apparel, and home decor are scheduled to hit stores next fall. ''Girls have a lot of purchasing power,'' says Signatures exec Matt Hautau, who also handled the (relatively unsuccessful) Osbournes line. ''They want things.'' No kidding.
The products will target the coveted tween and pre-tween (a.k.a. children's) market, and are expected to rake in as much as $10 million the first year. But given the book's themes of inner beauty and the perils of jealousy, isn't a massive merchandise campaign a little, well, odd? ''It would be ironic if a little girl said, I've got ''The English Roses'' and you don't,''' admits Hautau. ''This line is going to [reflect] the message of the book.'' He points out that the author nixed tentative plans for cosmetics (smart move, Madge), and insists the ''Roses'' marketing campaign will follow more selective literary models like that of Ian Falconer's best-selling ''Olivia.'' Either way, expect to find more than a few first graders begging for a Binah bedspread next year. Hey, at least they're not clamoring for girl-on-girl action with Brit. Yet.