Stars writing for Kids -- Ridge Writers on Books

By DONNA McCrohan Rosenthal

Jamie Lee Curtis, Madonna and Judy Collins have more than proven themselves as entertainers on stage and screen. With these worthwhile books for youngsters, they turn their talents to imparting values in fresh new ways.

“Is There Really a Human Race?” by Jamie Lee Curtis (illus. Laura Cornell, 40 pages, Harper Collins, hardcover, 2006, $16.99) combines playful pictures of mazes, people running and the winner of “biggest hair without product” with an important message in rhyme. Is the human race an obstacle course? If the race is unfair, will you succeed? When did it start? Who said, “Ready, set, go?” Am I racing my friends? Am I racing my sister?”

In the end, Curtis says to concentrate on the journey, make wise choices and not finish best or first but instead, to help others.

In “Yakov and the Seven Thieves” (illus. Gennady Spirin, 32 pages, Callaway, hardcover, 2004, $19.95), Madonna sets her tale against rich, detailed art that has a classical feel. Dedicating her story to naughty children everywhere, she tells about Yakov the cobbler who lives in a small village near a magical forest. Yakov’s son has become too ill to speak or leave his bed. In desperation, Yakov visits a mysterious old man who can talk to the angels, but even he can’t help.

In a surprise twist, Vladimir the Villain. Sadko the Snake. Stinky Pasha and a handful of other pickpockets and thieves “open the gates of heaven” with an act of pure kindness, and save the day and the little boy.

With “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Over the Rainbow” (both illus. Eric Puybaret, Imagine Publishing/Charles- bridge, hardcover, each $17.95), the legendary Judy Collins sings the beloved songs on included three-song CDs while the timeless lyrics provide text that Puybaret interprets with fantasy-filled paintings.

“When You Wish Upon a Star” (28 pages, 2011) follows cute children as their dreams come true. “Over the Rainbow” (26 pages, 2010) presents extraordinary exotic bluebirds and a girl who climbs a rainbow to a whimsical castle in the sky.

As a bonus, we find out that Judy Collins’ parents named her after Judy Garland, who introduced “Over the Rainbow” in MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz.”

Curtis, Madonna and Collins have distinguished themselves with fine books that children will enjoy while learning good lessons, as well as a few new tunes.

This weekly column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at Ridge-crest Presbyterian Church, and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions Grom a World Apart” is available at Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, the Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and online from the official website www.planetmojave.com.

Story First Published: 2013-01-09