Kids’ Books by Celebrity Authors: Stories by Madonna, Will Smith, Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Lithgow

The trend of celebrities authoring children’s books is hotter than ever. Celebrities from all walks of life have dabbled in children’s writing, from actors like John Travolta to the former president Jimmy Carter.

Even mobster John A. (Junior) Gotti authored a book titled “The Children of Shaolin Forest“.

As well, publishers have embraced this trend, recognizing children’s authorship by celebrities as a profitable niche in the children’s writing market.

Consider adding these four children’s books by celebrity authors to your personal collection:

The English Roses by Madonna

Illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari. Callaway, 2003. 48 pages. ISBN: 0-670-036788-1.

This first book in a series of picture books by Madonna (Material Girl- turned-soccer mom) surprises in a feel good tale about the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Aimed at “tweens” (pre-teens), The English Roses features a tight clique of four beautiful fashionable girls, Nicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Grace who ostracize Binah, the stunning loner.

When they all dream the same exact dream at a sleepover, they come to realize the truth about Binah and recognize their mistakes. Readers will enjoy the narrator’s relaxed conversational and the characters’ humorous tone. From cover to cover Fulvimari’s lively watercolor illustrations captivate tweens by providing energetic backdrops and imaginative scribbling with a retro feel.

Madonna on childrens books

Just Two of Us by Will Smith

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Scholastic Press, 2001. 32 pages. ISBN: 0-439-08792-9.

Will Smith, musician, actor, and father, sets rap lyrics to illustrations in this touching tribute to the splendor of fatherhood. The original rap, Just the Two of Us, a remake of Bill Withers’ classic song, features the irresistible classic hook: “Just the two of us, building castles in the sky. Just the two of us, you and I”.

Kadir Nelson’s colorful, richly textured, sentimental paintings capture the beauty of a father supporting his son’s development from a newborn to young man by giving him advice, strength, and love. Although the book is perfect for ages 4-8, it is suitable for all ages.

Marsupial Sue Presents the Runaway Pancake by John Lithgow

Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. Simon & Schuster, 2005. 40 pages. ISBN 0-689-87847-8.

Readers will delight in John Lithgow’s hilarious sequel to Marsupial Sue (2001). Marsupial Sue and friends present their rambunctious stage play: a comical, energetic rendition of “The Gingerbread Man”. Auntie May makes the mistake of cooking a pancake in a hot oven, and the boisterous Runaway Pancake jumps out and escapes, taunting “I’m too fast, you’re too slow. . . . I can get away from you, I can”.

The Runaway Pancake is pursued by Auntie May, Old Dog Tray, The Cow, The Donkey, The Wolf and the Bear, until he is finally outsmarted by a fox. Jack Davis’s wild and peculiar illustrations feature a vibrant rolling countryside and the side-splitting, costumed characters in hot pursuit of the tubby Runaway Pancake. Children ages 4-8 will delight in this riotous retelling, which features an accompanying CD on which Lithgow narrates and sings.

Will Smith Children's Book

When I was Little: A Four Year Old’s Memoir of Her Youth by Jamie Lee Curtis

Illustrated by Laura Cornell. HarperCollins, 1993. 32 pages. ISBN: 0-060-21078-8.

Jamie Lee Curtis is a brilliant star among the Screen Actors Guild members who write for children. Curtis’ first effort, When I Was Little, is a charming first person narrative of a child celebrating her growth and taking pride in discovering a sense of self. The accomplished four year old reflects on her capabilities, which stand in great contrast to her baby brother’s (“When I was little I had two teeth. Now I have lots, and I know how to brush them”). Cornell’s bright and busy watercolor illustrations capture the girl’s confident spirit in this easy memoir perfect for children ages 4 to 8.