Cover image for 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
Stone, Tanya Lee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2010.
Physical Description:
130 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
"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."
General Note:
Foreword: Barbie fix / by Meg Cabot -- Prologue: Happy birthday, Barbie! -- The moment of Ruth -- The making of Mattel -- A star is born -- It's all about the clothes -- Plastic makes perfect? -- It's not black and white -- Banning, bashing, and in the buff -- Barbie as art -- A real doll.
Reading Level:
1120 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.5 5.0 139489.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 10. 9 Quiz: 50801.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK4894.3.B37 S76 2010 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Tanya Lee Stone studied English at Oberlin College and was an editor of children's nonfiction for many years. She also has a Masters Degree. She teaches writing at Champlain College. After many years as an editor. Tanya moved to Vermont and returned to writing. This award-winning author has written titles that include the young adult novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, Up Close: Ella Fitzgerald , picture books Elizabeth Leads the Way, Sandy's Circus, and Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? She has also written narrative nonfiction with her titles: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie. In 2014 her title, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*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.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.