Madonna’s voice is ‘all wrong’

LAST UPDATED AT 12:56 ON Wed 24 Sep 2008

Quentin Blake, the artist best known for illustrating Roald Dahl's books, and one of the most revered names in publishing, has questioned the literary credentials of Madonna, who in addition to her singing career has published a number of children’s books in the last five years. He said: "I know that Madonna has written a few, and I read some of them, but the trouble is I don't really detect an authentic voice behind them."

Blake, who offered his barbed remarks to the Daily Telegraph at an exhibition of self-portraits - What Are You Like? - at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, said he believed that publishers "just want to use the name" of famous personalities and don't care what they write.

His comments echo those of children’s writer Francesca Simon, who stops short of citing Madonna as one of the culprits. "If a celebrity puts their name to a book without writing it, it's no different from them simply marketing perfume or sheets," says the author of the Horrid Henry series.

Madonna, who says her books are inspired by the mystical Hebrew texts she studies, clearly thinks otherwise. When she published her first effort, The English Roses, in 2003, she said she couldn't believe "how vapid and vacant and empty other children's books were". · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.