Bedtime story rituals and London life

November 06, 2004
Today's edition of UK newspaper The Times featuring extracts from Madonna's new book The Adventures of Abdi, a chat with the illustrators Andrej and Olga Dugin and a revealing interview with Madonna by Jane Wheatley, in which Madonna talks about the writing process, and her daily life in London with her family.

 Can you tell us something about the inspiration for The Adventures of Abdi?
 This book was inspired by a combination of things. I have always loved the backdrop and setting of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights so I wanted to write a story in that genre. In this setting I wanted to explain the Kabbalistic principle of 'certainty', the idea that we can overcome all obstacles and challenges in our lives if we perceive them as blessings and not curses; if we accept that they have arrived in our lives to teach us something valuable.

 What were your favourite books as a child?  
 Charlotte's Web, The Giving Tree, The Little Prince, Pippi Longstocking, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

 Do you read some of those childhood favourites to your own children?
 Yes, all of them.

 What are Lola's and Rocco's favourite books at the moment?
 Lola's are Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park, Wayside School by Louis Sachar and Tom - Tom & Nana by Jacqueline Cohen.
 Rocco's are Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and Les Schtroumpfs.

 What do your children think of the books you have written?  
 They love them, but The English Roses is Lola's favourite as she was very involved in its creation.

 Is there a bedtime story ritual in your house?  
 Yes, my children go to the Lyc so they get French and English books read to them. When I read to my son, my French nanny is reading to my daughter, then we switch. Although my daughter is getting to the point where she likes only to read by herself so she reads aloud to me.

 What do you feel is the role of stories and books in children's lives?  
 Stories and books are everything. They were very important to me as a child and were instrumental in developing my imagination. I feel very fortunate that my children love books as much as they do.

 Do you think you will continue to write after this series?
 Yes, I have already written a sequel to The English Roses.

 Have you any thoughts about writing for adults?
 Well I have thought about it, but that is a much tougher crowd. Ask me again in a few years.

 How does the process of writing books compare with writing song lyrics?
 At this point in my life I have written so many songs and they tell only a part of a story. I find the process of writing books much more rewarding, as there is a beginning, middle and an end.

 You live mainly in England with your family; can you describe your perfect day out with your children in London?
 A perfect day always includes going to Hyde Park riding bikes, feeding the ducks, having a treat at the little restaurant on the lake, and a trip to Bramley's Big Adventure. Lola loves ice skating at Somerset House and Rocco loves the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

 What else would you recommend?
 Tate Britain on Sunday afternoon has a children's day to do artwork and they like the Puppet Barge on the Thames.

 What is the one best thing you have all enjoyed and why?
 Our favourite thing to do together as a family that we all enjoy is going to our country house. My children really come alive there, feeding chickens, taking care of the horse, picking flowers and spending time outside in nature. I realise that this is not "in London" but it is our favourite thing to do.

 Where do you shop with them?
 The children's sections of Selfridges and Harrods.

 Where do you take your children to eat in London?
 Guy and I rarely take our children out to dinner as we rarely go out to dinner. But they go to the Blue Kangaroo a lot with their grandfather.

 Do you worry about children and safety in London?
 Not really. We take the normal precautions. but I would say we feel very safe here.

 You also have a home in LA. How child friendly is London by comparison?
 Extremely. There is so much to do for children here.

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