Uma Thurman has joined Ralph Lauren and Harry Connick Jr. as part of Lauren's The RL Gang: A Magically Magnificent School Adventure. According to the Ralph Lauren's website the series "brings Ralph Lauren's timeless, iconic clothes to life each season through beautifully illustrated picture books." This shoppable pseudo storybook "encourages parents and children to experience style, literature and digital technology." The second book follows the September launch of the first narrated by Harry Connick Jr. that introduced readers, I mean shoppers, to the fine fashion sense of Hudson, River, Jasper and other young children.
This time we have Uma Thurman narrating a story that is billed as literature whose primary purpose is to sell $39.50 Blake Pig Pony Oxfords or $395 cowboy boots. The book's author, Ralph Lauren's Childrenswear (I guess it was a collaborative effort over a latte) creates a world where children call their teacher "professor" and where boys and stylish Professor Randolph Latimer never wear socks. The 30-page book and Nook version are available from Barnes & Noble for $14.40
The sale of clothes does have a philanthropic bent from now until March 31st -- 15% of sales up to $25,000 (the cost of 50 Limited Edition Ballet Dresses at $495 each) will be donated to the non-profit Room to Grow, an organization with projects in Boston & New York City, that is dedicated to enriching children in the early stages of their lives. I am sure it is a worthy cause, as was the Habitat Musicians' Village, the charity benefiting from the first book. However, I cannot help but wonder why an organization with a national literacy mission is never chosen. Perhaps, they do not want to be connected with a book that is a sham.
I urge you to think twice before putting this book in your children's hands or on their nook and take the cost of the book or a limited edition ballet dress and donated it directly to organizations mentioned above or to the Books for Kids Foundation or First Book.