June 04, 2003 01:00 PM

Madonna has a pub date.

(No, that doesn’t refer to her local British alehouse. That’s book talk for “publishing date.”)

The Material Mogul’s first children’s book, “The English Roses,” will hit stores Sept. 15 — arriving in 42 languages in more than 100 countries, reports Billboard. And J.K. Rowling, move over: It’s being called the largest simultaneous worldwide release of a book in history.

The debut of “Roses” will mark the kickoff of a five-book series by Madonna, 44, with a projected first printing of the U.S. edition (by the Penguin Group) of 400,000 copies.

“Roses,” based on the adventures of a red fox and a little prince, is described as “a story for young readers about friendship, jealousy, sleepover parties and fairy godmothers with stunning full-color illustrations throughout.”

The title and release date of the second book will be announced after the first book is published. And each book in the series will feature illustrations by a different artist.

As a Penguin author, Madonna joins such illustrious contributors to the house as the late Roald Dahl, Raymond Briggs, Eric Carle and Allan and Janet Ahlberg.

The financial terms of Madonna’s book deal have not been disclosed. Her first (and, until now, only) book, “Sex,” published amid great controversy in 1992, featured X-rated photos of herself and became a bestseller.

Of course, her interest in children may stem from the fact that she has two of her own: Lourdes, 6, and Rocco, 2.

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