Readers praise Laurie Wagner's decision to let her kids "go crazy" but tell children's books' author Madonna to keep her day job.

Published November 18, 2003 7:52PM (EST)

[Read "Letting My Kids Go Crazy," by Laurie Wagner.]

Laurie Wagner's essay sent adrenaline all through my saggy maternal body -- just when I was sure that I didn't even produce the stuff anymore. Tonight we're jumping in a box of packing peanuts! I'll be watching for Laurie's next essay when she uses the hand not holding the margarita to chuck a glob of rice herself.

-- Mary Meyer

Amen and amen. I have four kids and say no more than I ever thought I would want or have to. But sometimes I say yes. Yes, you can put chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows into your (organic peanut butter, whole strawberry preserves on whole wheat) sandwiches. Yes, you can have ice cream for an appetizer. On cones. With sprinkles. Yes, you can use stickers to put up all of today's artwork on the walls in the living room. Yes, you can put on your swim suits and jump in the puddles outside, even if it's chilly out. Every time I have my equivalent of the rice fight, it makes us all feel better. Three cheers for Ruby and Zoe, and three cheers for Laurie Wagner. Parenting is hard. You've got to have a day off now and then. Or an hour. Or even 15 minutes.

-- Jennifer Grant

[Read "Madonna the Conformist," by Emily Jenkins.]

Thank you, Emily Jenkins! I skimmed through "The English Roses" in the drugstore here (as if I would spend good money on it!) and found it plodding and banal. As she says, the only good part of it was the illustrations which, natch, were not by Madonna. This is not to say I don't like Madonna -- I think she is über-cool and I've even liked some of her movies (!) but it is disappointing to see how conventional and unimaginative this story is, especially when one considers the awesome variety of Madonna's personas over the years.

"Mr. Peabody's Apples" sounds just as idiotic. The only word of comfort I can offer to Jenkins (and all those kids who may be subjected to this dumb story) is that it won't last. Good children's literature stands the test of time. These books, once their celebrity novelty has worn off, will have a quiet demise in the dustbins of time.

-- Rosemary

The entire notion of making a repentant gossip shake open a pillow and then collect the feathers is an ancient Jewish tale from the Talmud. So not only can't Madonna tell stories well, she's not even original! Maybe her next children's book should be about the sin of plagiarism.

-- Elisabeth Riba

Emily Jenkins states, "We don't have older children picture books." But we do! She should take a look at Walter Dean Myers' "Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam," or "When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson," by Pam Muñoz Ryan, to name just two. If fact, if she asked any children's librarian she would probably end up with an armload of such books, many of them by genuinely gifted authors. Picture books for older children have been around for quite some time. One trend, at least, that Madonna can't take credit for.

-- Patrice Sherman

I agree that celebrity children's books are an abomination, and I'm sure Madonna can't write for shit.

However, I cannot understand why it is wrong to teach children about wrongs -- like gossip -- that cannot be undone. There are such wrongs, and children need to know that.

-- Stephen Judd

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------