From 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
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*Starred Review* Everyone knows Barbie. And almost everyone has an opinion of her. 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. Stone starts things off on a biographical note as she introduces Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator and a shrewd businesswoman who instinctively understood the Barbie concept would be a success even as detractors, mostly male, told her it wouldn’t. The focus then moves to Barbie herself, in all her vast and varied incarnations. Much of Barbie’s story is one of evolution, and readers will find it particularly fascinating to read that although Barbie was a leader in diversity, cloned into various roles and cultures, some customers still didn’t find her ethnic enough, most often lamenting that no matter her color, Barbie usually had “good” hair. Near the end of the book, just when one wonders if Stone will mention what went on under Barbie’s clothes, she goes there in a chapter called, “Banning, Bashing, and in the Buff.” Closing on a higher plane, the book concludes with “Barbie as Art.” Source notes, a bibliography, and lots of images, including an inset of color photos, add to an offering that pleases and intrigues. Grades 7-10. --Ilene Cooper