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Madonna Continues Tending 'English Roses'

Madonna (search) has produced five children's books in the past 18 months in a deal with Callaway Editions, and the fifth, "Lotsa de Casha," (search) was supposed to be her last. But now she has decided to do a sequel about the tween girls who starred in her first book, "The English Roses." (search)

It's already written and illustrations are under way, she says. The expected publication date is September 2006.

She decided to revisit the young girls who were jealous of a beautiful yet insecure classmate because it was the book closest to her heart — and it's the favorite of her daughter Lola, she says.

"When I first started out (writing the books), I knew what the first book would be about, jealousy and envy, which I did in 'The English Roses.' ... Girls can be especially hard on other girls," Madonna said in a telephone interview.

Publisher Nicholas Callaway said Madonna still has many stories to tell. He also pointed out that "The English Roses" was on The New York Times' list of best sellers for 18 weeks. "Lotsa de Casha" has also made the Times list, debuting at No. 3.

"She identifies with the English Roses. She wants to help guide girls through that crucial stage of life," Callaway said.

All of Madonna's books, however, teach a little lesson, and they've all been inspired by her own life.

"Mr. Peabody's Apples" was about the downfall of a rumor monger. "The whole idea of gossiping, speaking badly of each other and spreading rumors is a subject that's very near and dear to my heart," she said.

And in the new "Lotsa de Casha," a wealthy Scroogelike greyhound finds happiness only after he is forced to work for a living. He sees the other half lives a rich life without gold or jewels.

The former "Material Girl," who sold millions of records and became one of the most powerful women in the music industry, is the right person to tell that story, she said.

"The ideas for all the books ultimately came from my own life experiences. This one was my realization that material things don't buy you happiness. ... If you don't have great success, how could you come to this conclusion? I had to go through this, and there were times in my life where I was perceived to have everything, yet I didn't feel fulfilled," she said.

What has brought her happiness, she said, is her family — Lola, son Rocco and husband Guy Ritchie. Raising children has taught her how to share and take chances for the greater good, which aren't always at the forefront in the minds of most celebrities, she said.

"You have to be a lot less selfish. For me, real sharing and the growth of sharing is when you do something ... outside your comfort zone."

The children's books embody that philosophy for her, she said, noting that she doesn't take any money for writing them, instead she makes a donation to the Spirituality for Kids Foundation, an education and outreach arm of the Kabbalah Center.

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