The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us

Tanya Lee Stone, Author
Tanya Lee Stone, Viking, $19.99 (130p) ISBN 978-0-670-01187-2
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-14-751606-0
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On the heels of Barbie's 50th anniversary in 2009, Stone (Almost Astronauts) delivers a cultural-history-as-biography of Barbie, "arguably the most famous doll in the world." Really two biographies in one, the book explores the lives of both the doll and her inventor, "self proclaimed tomboy" Ruth Handler. The daughter of Polish immigrants, Handler helped found Mattel, and Barbie's 1959 introduction wasn't far behind. Stone discusses Barbie's cultural relevance at length, from her numerous careers and the many races and nationalities she's represented to debates about her effect on girls' body image and even her resonance in the art world. Meg Cabot, who contributes a foreword, makes it clear what side she's on: "How Barbie looked was never the issue.... [W]hat she taught us was that, like Barbie, we could be anything we wanted to be." Filled with photographs of Barbie dolls past and present as well as quotes about her from nationally known figures and children alike, Stone's fascinating and balanced account reveals a toy of almost unmatched influence. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
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