Madonna Launches 'Roses' Toy Line

A few years ago, if someone said Madonna was selling toys, one would assume sex toys. But that is so yesterday for the ever evolving diva-turned-movie-star-turned-Gap-spokeswoman-turned-children's-aut

A few years ago, if someone said Madonna was selling toys, one would assume sex toys. But that is so yesterday for the ever evolving diva-turned-movie-star-turned-Gap-spokeswoman-turned-children's-author, whose publishing blitz in kids books has now paved the way for a new line of products based on her book, "The English Roses."

Yesterday (Nov. 12), Madonna and merchandising company Signatures Network Inc. announced a deal to develop dolls, apparel, accessories, cosmetics, stationery, room decor and back-to-school products aimed at the "pre-tween" readers, aged 7 to 12, who made Madonna's book a hit. The "Roses" products begin rolling out in early 2004.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to develop a range of beautiful products that will complement the book and continue to spread its positive messages to children," Madonna said.

Set in London, "The English Roses" is a moralistic tale about the importance of compassion and friendship through the story of four little girls. The book has been printed in 30 languages, released in over 100 countries and became the largest children's book release in publishing history with a first printing of 1 million copies.

"Madonna clearly knows how to captivate audiences and with 'The English Roses,' she is reaching an entirely new generation on a global level," said Dell Furano, chief executive of Signatures who is talking with Mattel Inc. about developing dolls based on the books' characters.

Madonna recently released her second children's book, "Mr. Peabody's Apples" to less enthusiasm from critics. Signatures' deal relates only to "The English Roses," said Furano, who added that the 45-year-old mother of two has often rejected licensing and merchandising opportunities throughout the years.

"She has turned down many things over the years in terms of fashion, apparel, eyewear, fragrance... huge money deals," he said, adding, "She liked the idea of building 'The English Roses' franchise and children-based products. It's a separate part of her that she wanted to embrace."


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