Second children'sbook by Madonna

7th November 2003 at 00:00
Children love him, he holds no grudges, runs clubs in his spare time and dispenses wisdom in pithy parables. He is a super teacher, created by a superstar.

Madonna has just published a picture book that tells the story of a teacher who dispenses moral guidance to a group of primary pupils. Based on a 300-year-old Jewish story, Mr Peabody's Apples is the second children's book by the world-famous singer, who has two children under six.

Dedicated "to teachers everywhere", it tells of a history teacher who coaches a children's baseball team in his spare time.

Living in a material world, Mr Peabody raises suspicions when a pupil sees him take an apple without paying. He asks his accuser to take a pillow into a field, cut it open so the feathers scatter in the wind, then collect them all. When the boy protests this is impossible, he responds: "It would be just as impossible to undo the damage that you have done by spreading the rumour that I am a thief."

Teachers should like this image of them as all-forgiving dispensers of moral wisdom. Stephen Dainty, head of St Joseph's Roman Catholic primary, Birkenhead, said: "There's more to education than literacy and numeracy.

Teachers are here to develop a child's social being and understanding. If Madonna is using her stardom to help us highlight this, it's a good thing."

Madonna's previous literary efforts include a graphic coffee-table book entitled Sex. But Mr Dainty insists there is space for her new book at his school.

And Helen Pallett, literacy consultant at Djanogly city technology college, in Nottingham, also plans to add the book to her library. She said: "Pupils are more likely to listen if it is Madonna telling them that teachers are good people."

Chris Keates, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Many teachers feel they are going to school each morning on a raft of criticism. I'm sure they will welcome recognition, from wherever."

"Mr Peabody's Apples" (Puffin, pound;12.99) is published November 10

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