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

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

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by Tanya Lee Stone
     
 

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During her unparalleled fifty-year history, Barbie has been the doll that some people love-and some people love to hate. There's no question she's influenced generations, but to what end? Acclaimed nonfiction author Tanya Lee Stone takes an unbiased look at how Barbie became the icon that she is, and at the impact that she's had on our culture (and vice versa).

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Overview

During her unparalleled fifty-year history, Barbie has been the doll that some people love-and some people love to hate. There's no question she's influenced generations, but to what end? Acclaimed nonfiction author Tanya Lee Stone takes an unbiased look at how Barbie became the icon that she is, and at the impact that she's had on our culture (and vice versa). Featuring passionate anecdotes and memories from a range of girls and women, a foreword by Meg Cabot, and original color photographs, this book explores the Barbie phenomenon in a brand-new light.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.... 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.)
From the Publisher
Winner of the Golden Kite Award

“History writers don’t get better than Tanya Lee Stone. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie is balanced, funny, provocative—and most of all, important for anyone wanting to understand girlhood in America.”—E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars

“This is no mere Barbie book. This is a how-to manual about being a girl: a strong, sparky, awesome girl, with Barbie in hand or in the nearest deumpster!”—Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author
 
* “Stone has done her homework and offers a particularly well-researched read. But she has also gotten many women (and men) to reminisce, comment, and argue about Barbie, and these voices add sparkle.”—Booklist, starred review 

* “Stone reveals the pathos behind so many relationships of girls with Barbie: those who cherished her and those who were negatively influenced…In this balanced overview, both sides of the quandary are addressed...  Accessible…and includes extensive source notes and bibliographical information.”—School Library Journal, starred review 
 
* "Stone tantalizes with her intriguing survey of Barbie. 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.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
"Stone calmly covers Barbie's creation by Ruth Handler, the formation of Mattel, and the doll's unpromising launch among sexpot-resistant buyers at a national toy fair. From there on, though, the gloves come off, and Stone allows the voices of women and teens, scholars and collectors, lovers and haters to thrash out whether Barbie has single-handedly set an unattainable standard of female beauty, joined forces with manipulative media to trash adolescent self-esteem, acted as the progressive model for girls to envision gender barrier-crashing careers, or reigned as-duh-just a really cool doll with really pretty clothes…Notes, index, and an extensive bibliography may lure report writers into unconsidered territory, and teen book clubs might want to nominate this as a fiery nonfiction selection.”—BCCB
 
“Stone takes an unapologetic look at Barbie's life, documenting the changes in Barbie through the years, her impact on society and the numerous controversies surrounding her existence.”—Children’s Literature
 
“Stone's evenhanded, eye-opening cultural history examines [Barbie] quoting a myriad of sources to reveal the devotion and loathing generated by a fifty-plus-year-old hunk of molded plastic."—The Horn Book
 
“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.”—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Love her or hate her, everyone recognizes Barbie on sight. She is an American icon, known the world over and coveted by thousands of children and adults. Created by Ruth Handler as a doll her older daughter could dress up and play with, Barbie reached stardom status quickly, and just as quickly became hated by parents who thought Barbie was too grown up for little girls. Barbie earned hatred just as quickly from people who found her beauty and girlish storyline a detriment to the feminist movement that was gaining momentum the same time that Barbie burst onto the toy scene. Stone takes an unapologetic look at Barbie's life, documenting the changes in Barbie through the years, her impact on society and the numerous controversies surrounding her existence. Numerous testimonies from those who love and hate Barbie bring personal insight into the life of this doll that has made such an impact on society. Black and white photos chronicling Barbie's life are peppered throughout the text and a full-color spread of Barbie through the years is included in the middle of the text. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—In the prologue, Meg Cabot describes her desire for a Barbie and her mother's reluctance to purchase one, basically summing up the conflict surrounding the doll since its introduction in 1959. Readers learn about Mattel Toys and the background behind Barbie's concept and development, how it was a solution for girls who wanted to imagine adult roles rather than just play mother, and details about inventor Ruth Handler. But more than that, Stone reveals the pathos behind so many relationships of girls with Barbie: those who cherished her and those who were negatively influenced. Was she a destructive role model or just a toy? Experts disagree. In this balanced overview, both sides of the quandary are addressed. Barbie's different roles, graduating from nurse to surgeon, stewardess to pilot, and always a woman of her own means, reflect societal changes over the past 50 years as well. Numerous black-and-white photos feature the doll in her various incarnations, while eight center pages deliver color versions as well as images of Barbie-inspired art. Inset quotes appear on a Barbie handbag icon. The author maintains her signature research style and accessible informational voice and includes extensive source notes and bibliographical information.—Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
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, andshe 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--asthey already do with Barbie. (author's note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670011872
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
10/14/2010
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
661,249
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
1120L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Winner of the Golden Kite Award

“History writers don’t get better than Tanya Lee Stone. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie is balanced, funny, provocative—and most of all, important for anyone wanting to understand girlhood in America.”—E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars

“This is no mere Barbie book. This is a how-to manual about being a girl: a strong, sparky, awesome girl, with Barbie in hand or in the nearest deumpster!”—Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author
 

• “Stone has done her homework and offers a particularly well-researched read. But she has also gotten many women (and men) to reminisce, comment, and argue about Barbie, and these voices add sparkle.”—Booklist, starred review 

• “Stone reveals the pathos behind so many relationships of girls with Barbie: those who cherished her and those who were negatively influenced…In this balanced overview, both sides of the quandary are addressed...  Accessible…and includes extensive source notes and bibliographical information.”—School Library Journal, starred review 
 
* "Stone tantalizes with her intriguing survey of Barbie. 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.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
"Stone calmly covers Barbie's creation by Ruth Handler, the formation of Mattel, and the doll's unpromising launch among sexpot-resistant buyers at a national toy fair. From there on, though, the gloves come off, and Stone allows the voices of women and teens, scholars and collectors, lovers and haters to thrash out whether Barbie has single-handedly set an unattainable standard of female beauty, joined forces with manipulative media to trash adolescent self-esteem, acted as the progressive model for girls to envision gender barrier-crashing careers, or reigned as-duh-just a really cool doll with really pretty clothes…Notes, index, and an extensive bibliography may lure report writers into unconsidered territory, and teen book clubs might want to nominate this as a fiery nonfiction selection.”—BCCB
 
“Stone takes an unapologetic look at Barbie's life, documenting the changes in Barbie through the years, her impact on society and the numerous controversies surrounding her existence.”—Children’s Literature
 
“Stone's evenhanded, eye-opening cultural history examines [Barbie] quoting a myriad of sources to reveal the devotion and loathing generated by a fifty-plus-year-old hunk of molded plastic."—The Horn Book
 
“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.”—Publishers Weekly

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Meet the Author

Tanya Lee Stone has written many biographies for young readers. She lives in Burlington, Vermont.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Informative Look at an Icon The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone is written for young teens, and it presents not only the creation of the iconic Barbie doll but also the rise and fall of Mattel corporation. To some Barbie is the epitome of a feminist--she can do anything she wants to do.  She lives the American Dream.  To others, Barbie is the chauvinistic ideal of what men want and Barbie crushes the self-esteem/body image of young girls.  Whichever side of that argument you are on, The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie will be interesting.  The book presents both points of view, but really focuses on Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler.   Ruth and husband Elliot along with friend, Matt, created Mattel Corporation.  The discussion of the work environment at Mattel was fascinating (first integrated factory) as was the role Disney's Musketeers show played in Mattel's successful toy advertising campaign.  Ruth came up with the idea of the Barbie doll as a way for girls to continue to play with dolls without having the role of homemaker/nurturer forced upon them (which she believed the prevalent baby dolls did).  She wanted her daughter Barbara and her friends to have a doll that represented the changing norms of the late 1950s and 1960s.  I learned that Barbie and Ken were named after Ruth Handler's children. The discussion of Barbie's influence on artists is interesting as well.  From Andy Warhol to Margaux Lange's jewelry made of Barbie body parts, the doll's influence will amaze readers. Most fascinating was creator Ruth Handler.  She was a pioneer.  A mom who worked outside the home, a tenacious business owner and a breast cancer survivor.  One other interesting tidbit was Ruth's involvement in engineering a better post-mastectomy prosthetic bra based on her experience in plastics and design while working with the Barbie doll.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie is a biography on one of the world's most popular dolls. It lacks nothing short of detail on the birth of Barbie and both the positive and negative views consumers had and still have today of the impossibly perfect doll. The author explained the relationships people have had with the popular play toy as either "a love or hate relationship. There's no in between." I found it a generally quick read, though it was a bit drawling at times. However, I was also fascinated by all of the controversy and passion Stone installed between those very relationships and lack of bias for either one. If you hate Barbie with a passion you'll most likely find The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie an interesting read. If you love Barbie dearly, also, an interesting read.