On March 19 1989, Madonna was the featured artist in the Arts section of the New York Times in an article and interview by Stephen Holden.
Like a Prayer, said Madonna, “is the song of a passionate young girl so in love with God that it is almost as though He were the male figure in her life. From around 8 to 12 years old, I had the same feelings. I really wanted to be a nun.”
What follows is a description in Madonna’s own words of what happens in the video:
“A girl on the street witnesses an assault on a young woman. Afraid to get involved because she might get hurt, she is frozen in fear. A black man walking down the street also sees the incident and decides to help the woman. But just then, the police arrive and arrest him. As they take him away, she looks up and sees one of the gang members who assaulted the girl. He gives her a look that says she’ll be dead if she tells. The girl runs, not knowing where to go until she sees a church. She goes in and sees a saint in a cage who looks very much like the black man on the street, and says a prayer to help her make the right decision. He seems to be crying, but she is not sure. She lies down on a pew and falls into a dream in which she begins to tumble in space with no one to break her fall. Suddenly she is caught by a woman who represents earth and emotional strength and who tosses her back up and tells her to do the right thing. Still dreaming, she returns to the saint, and her religious and erotic feelings begin to stir. The saint becomes a man. She picks up a knife and cuts her hands. That’s the guilt in Catholicism that if you do something that feels good you will be punished. As the choir sings, she reaches an orgasmic crescendo of sexual fulfillment intertwined with her love of God. She knows that nothing’s going to happen to her if she does what she believes is right. She wakes up, goes to the jail, tells the police the man is innocent, and he is freed. Then everybody takes a bow as if to say we all play a part in this little scenario.”
On September 15 2003, Madonna’s first children’s book, The English Roses, was released worldwide. To promote the book, Madonna held a reading to a group of children (and adults!) at the Gallimard Gardens in Paris.
The English Roses debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The book remained at #1 on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers list for 7 weeks.
To date, The English Roses has sold over 500,000 copies.
On July 22 1989, Madonna’s Express Yourself reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Express Yourself was the first song that Madonna and producer Stephen Bray collaborated on for the Like a Prayer album.
“The message of the song is that people should always say what it is they want. The reason relationships don’t work is because they are afraid. That’s been my problem in all my relationships. I’m sure people see me as an outspoken person, and for the most part, if I want something I ask for it. But sometimes you feel that if you ask for too much or ask for the wrong thing from someone you care about that that person won’t like you. And so you censor yourself. I’ve been guilty of that in every meaningful relationship I’ve ever had. The time I learn how not to edit myself will be the time I consider myself a complete adult.”
On June 7 2004, Callaway Arts & Entertainment announced the release of Madonna’s third book for children, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, on June 21, 2004.
Yakov and the Seven Thieves was illustrated by Gennady Spirin, an award winning and internationally revered artist, who had illustrated 33 previous children’s books.
Madonna’s first two children’s books, The English Roses and Mr. Peabody’s Apples, both debuted at No. 1 on the children’s picture book best-seller list of The New York Times, and remained on the list for 18 and 10 weeks, respectively.
Madonna described Yakov and the Seven Thieves as “a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven-no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others.”
Publisher and CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, Nicholas Callaway made this statement about the book: “Yakov and the Seven Thieves again proves the amazing range of Madonna’s storytelling talent. Her first book was set in contemporary England and the second in post-World War II America. Now, she takes us to a completely different cultural milieu-a small 18th-century town in Eastern Europe. We therefore selected a world-renowned Russian artist, Gennady Spirin, to illustrate this book, because his traditional artistic style perfectly complements the old-world setting of the story.