But Can They Write?

Celebrity Authors
Here are my reviews of a few books written by authors you may know and love ( or hate) from their other lives as celebrities. I am eager to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment about celebrity authors, the featured books or leave a recommendation for a “celebrity” book I didn’t mention .

“Is There Really A Human Race?” by Jamie Lee Curtis made me cry. My husband would say that’s not exactly hard , but it is when it’s a book not many bring me to tears. I really like this book and so did my son which surprised me because I thought it would be too long and sophisticated for a 2 year old. The rhyming text was so well written that it along with the adorable illustrations by Laura Cornell kept him happily interested as I read it to him before nap. I thought that the message was going to be about race relations, but instead it was about the rat race, and how it’s more important to try your best, help others and to be bold. The line ” And for those who can’t speak for themselves use bold voices” was when I lost it. I hope that lesson is one I can teach my son, to stand up for others. Okay so maybe I am a softy but this book is great!

“Where Do Balloons Go?: An Uplifting Mystery” by Jamie Lee Curtis is a cute book. After being so happily surprised with the previous book I grabbed this one and started reading it to my son. This was too sophisticated for a 2 year old and probably too much after a few other books. It’s a funny book that fantasizes about the life of a balloon after it slips from your hands. I wish I could have read it to a 4 or 5 year old to see their reaction. I liked it but the message that stood out for me was most definitely one for the parent reading it more than for the child. Not that kids wouldn’t be entertained, I am sure they would. The overall message is about letting go, and what parent can’t relate to the anxiety of letting go.

“I Got Two Dogs” by John Lithgow will delight you. The book comes with a CD and I urge you to play it, hearing a book by the author is always amazing, but this song was thoroughly entertaining. As a dog lover who fondly remembers my childhood dog eating all the lasagnas at my first boy girl dinner party , I can relate to the naughty but lovable dogs. The message is about devotion and unconditional love and you don’t have to be a dog lover to get that.

“Carnival of the Animals” by John Lithgow is a book about a little boy who falls asleep on a school trip to the natural history museum. He has wild dreams where people in his life turn into the animals from the museum. This is the perfect example of why I should preview books before handing them to my son. This book isn’t for toddlers, some may like it but the text is long and the illustrations while beautiful and can be scary. They freaked my son out so we closed it and I read it later. The book is written in prose and the vocabulary is advanced , which I love! How are children suppose to expand their vocabularies if we don’t challenge them? That said I would probably not expect a child under 5 to sit through the whole book, although I am sure some eager 3 or 4 year olds would be just fine. I should also note that the book also comes with a CD although mine was missing from my library copy, I will update this post after I have found a copy and listened to it.

“Mr. Peabody’s Apples” by Madonna is a preachy but worth a look. As an adult reading it I couldn’t help but think it was a “poor me” story about how celebrities are faced with rumors but really that must be hard. I was being unfair so I put my preexisting knowledge about the author away and started to like the story. It’s about a teacher who is the center of a small town’s gossip mill after a boy thinks he sees the teacher steal. The moral tone is heavy but the Rockwellesque illustrations by Loren Long make reading it feel like you are in a time warp and the heavy tone is not so overbearing. The book is far too long for young preschoolers but appropriate for the 5 and up crowd.

“The English Roses” by Madonna is a pretty book, filled with pretty girls with pretty hair and pretty clothes. I’m not sure I like the rest of it. I don’t hate it but I am a little concerned about a few messages that stood out for me. Now as a teacher I have had to defend some books to parents over the years and I think that most books can be spun by the questions the teacher or parent asks and how the discussion after reading goes. This book can be useful with that for sure, and I think many young girls especially would like this book. Here are my reservations though, the plot is about a clique of girls who don’t like a classmate. They don’t like her because she is “perfect” and they are jealous of that. After a rude awakening by a fairy godmother they see she has no mom and does many chores. So they pity her and decide to start being nice to her, in return people start talking about them and they become popular. I guess I was hoping that in the long book that there would be more substance to the lesson. Like people for who they are not because you feel sorry for them, judge people when you know them not by their outsides and I think Madonna trying for that but just missed the mark.

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  1. megsatron says

    I’d like to recommend “Marsupial Sue”, by John Lithgow. We recently borrowed it from the library and my 3 yr old daughter loved it! We listened to the accompanying CD and the music was very cute/catchy. The story is entertaining and so are the illustrations. My daughter carried this book around the house with her for days! I hope you get the chance to enjoy it!

  2. EntertainingMom says

    love the English Roses… the story, message and ilustrations are wonderful. they come in chapter books as well for the older set.

    Jimmy Buffet has some children’s books too and equally as wonderful and colorful as his songs!

  3. Barbara Schantz says

    We have John Lithgow’s Mahalia Mouse Goes to College (with the CD) and we love it. I’ll have to get some of these books, but not all. Thanks for the honest advice!

  4. The Robinsons says

    My daughter loves the books written by Spike Lee and his wife entitled Please, Puppy, Please and Please, Baby, Please. Very cute and funny stories with vivid illustrations. Check them out! 🙂

  5. K, @ Heart says

    Great post! There’s this really cute book by Billy Crystal called, “I already Know I Love you.” about a first time grandpa and his excitement etc. It’s so sweet!
    I’m actually surprised by the number of celeb authors there are…I guess I shouldn’t be. 🙂

  6. Amy Sunderland says

    I was totally going to suggest “I already know I love you” but I got beaten to it!! It’s definitly a fun one to give your parents so they can read it there grandchildren!

    I LOVE this post!!! What a fun idea! I hope you look at and review some more for us!

  7. Infant Bibliophile says

    Would you believe I have celebrity-written books on my list of blog post ideas too?! I just never got around to doing it (was sort of waiting until my son was old enough to appreciate more of them). Now I don’t have to. 😉 Thanks for the great post.

  8. Joan Young (aka Mancini) says

    Thanks so much for the reviews of celebrity authored books! I have found Madonna’s books difficult to get excited about, ( and have not read them to my classes) but truly have enjoyed many of the others you reviewed. What a great idea for a post! Thank you 🙂

  9. Zoo Mommy says

    Wellll… other than Jamie Lee Curtis’ books, which have a co-author and I do really like, I have a stay-away policy from celebrity books. Both my husband and I thought Billy Crystal’s book was terrible and also Madonna’s (although we only read the first one). Jay Leno’s is awful and although we have Marsupial Sue, none of us like it. This is getting too long, I guess I should blog about it myself LOL

  10. ~Bobbi~ says

    I agree with you about Madonna’s books. I have seen them in parenting magazines, so I decided to read them and they don’t seem to fit with my family. I do like Jamie Lee Curtis’ books, except in some of them the writing font is in cursive or difficult to read. When my kids are learning how to read, and even my 6 year old now- can’t read the font in them.


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