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THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BARBIE by Tanya Lee Stone Kirkus Star


A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us

by Tanya Lee Stone

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-01187-2
Publisher: Viking

Sibert Medalist Stone tantalizes with her brief and intriguing survey of Barbie. She begins with the history of Mattel, started by self-made businesswoman Ruth Handler in the 1940s, and moves onto materialism, body image, portrayals of ethnicity, nudity, taboo and art. Direct quotes from women and girls showcase the variety of feelings that Barbie engenders, and the author weighs in occasionally and effectively to show that though Barbie is often “just a doll...We have...helped make her the icon—and subject of controversy—that she is.” That authorial “we” often wavers between a universal and one that is clearly adult, and she herself suggests that adults are most concerned with Barbie as an idea, while kids engage with her as a doll, indicating an audience of teens and adults rather than children. The striking cover, open design with numerous photographs and collegial voice will appeal to younger readers, though, and if they overhear something of a conversation pitched to adults, they’ll just take it as they can use it--as they already do with Barbie. (author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)