Monday, December 20, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone

Tanya Lee Stone's The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: a Doll's History and her impact on Us combines several things: a history of one of the most ubiquitous toys in North America; consideration of the sociological implications of this polarizing wasp-wasted vixen; and a biography of the forward-thinking, ahead-of-her-times and incredibly astute business woman who not only came up with the original idea but also created and helmed Mattel with her husband.
I was never big on mutilating my own Barbies, perhaps because I didn't have brothers (although I was bribed at the age of 3 to serve as a flower girl by the promise of a Skipper) and the chapter on mutilation is highly amusing. A thorough history of the development of the company provides readers with a lot of information about Ruth Handler, whose accomplishments in the business world are impressive. Whether you believe that Barbie is evil or merely a toy, this book provides a wealth of remembrances to go along with the history. Readers who had their own barbies will enjoy the pictures: those new(er) to the doll will find her development interesting, and may be amazed to learn how popular she remains today. How big is Barbie? An ad for Toys R Us the other day mentioned that the hottest toys this year included a new Barbie dream house...

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