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

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  699 ratings  ·  195 reviews
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 p ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published October 14th 2010 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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80th out of 147 books — 517 voters
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Community Reviews

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"She's just too unreal. How do you bond with something that looks like a taffy pull with a face?" writes LA Times journalist and feminist Patt Morrison.

Imagination. Must we sacrifice that in order to stand up for our rights to equality?

Like many girls, I played with barbies as a child, and as the creator (Ruth Handler, a dark-haired Jew) intended, it was all about the clothes. The hourglass figures mimicked the mannequins in store windows because this shrewd businesswoman wasn't going to make m
Destinee Sutton
There is something about Tanya Lee Stone's writing that I don't like. The tone, I think. When it comes to non-fiction, I like an authoritative, detached perspective from the author. Stone, to my everlasting dismay, subtly editorializes right and left in an overtly feminist "Rah Rah Women!" kind of way. I'm totally pro-woman, but it irks me to see her pushing her perspective when I think she should let the facts speak for themselves. I had this exact same issue with Almost Astronauts, probably ev ...more
A short, sweet overview of Barbie and the challenges she has faced over her 50+ years of existence. Not very long, not very in depth, but still well researched and good for a glimpse into the famous doll. A lot of the quotes or stories had me laughing out loud...especially the Forward.
I knew the author and I were going to be amazing friends after I read that Forward.
I, too, was forbidden from having that scandalous Barbie doll for fear I would grow up with a negative body image. In fact, I dist
Lisa N
Brief history of the Mattel Company and the creation of Barbie thrown together with a wacky mix of juvenile sensation elements and conjecture.

The story of Ruth Handler and the start up of Mattel was very interesting. Ruth was gutsy and took a lot of rewarding risks. One such venture was her gamble on the untried idea of marketing to kids, by making a huge advertising commitment to the ABC network with the new show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Mattel’s Burp Gun sales went through the roof.

Mattel was
This nonfiction book is an easy, interesting read covering the life of Barbie's creator, the history of the Mattel company, and the controversy surrounding the infamous doll. While no means comprehensive, it offers an excellent overview of what all the hullabaloo is about and offers both the feminist, anti-Barbie side and the (also surprisingly) feminist, pro-Barbie side. Heck, the author even tosses in the "why is this such a big deal, it's just a frigging doll and we know it's not real, morons ...more
Tanya Lee Stone introduces a controversial topic in her nonfiction book: The Good, The Bad, And The Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us. Tanya is straightforward. She begins by giving the readers the background as to how Barbie was created and then pulls opinions from all over. She really did her research. She receives opinions from Barbie supporters to Barbie-Bashers. Tanya gives examples of how Barbie dresses to work in what was generally a male dominated workforce. While on the othe ...more
Liz B
I absolutely loved Barbies from about age 9 to 12. My friends and I played out elaborate storylines for hours at a time. So I was fascinated by this book, which looks at the doll, her creator, and her impact.

I didn't shelve it under "buy for book clubs" because I need another reader. I'm not sure of the kid appeal--am I liking it only because of who I am? And there's basically a whole chapter about how kids have Barbie & Ken have sex. I don't think it's a big deal, but I really need another
Award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone is back with another hit. This time, Stone tackles the biography of one of the world’s most loved (and hated) icons – Barbie. Whether you see her as an innocent child’s doll or a reflection of society’s obsession with beauty; this book has something for everyone. The genius of this book begins in the foreword by Meg Cabot, who eloquently offers us her memories of being Barbie obsessed, “supporting my Barbie fix was what started me on a path to eventually beco ...more
In The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us, Stone not only tells the history of the Barbie doll but also explores and examines Barbie’s cultural and psychological impact on girls, boys, women, and even men. The book starts out with a brief but detailed biography of Ruth Handler and those she worked with leading up to and founding her toy company Mattel, whose success really took off with the popularity of the Barbie doll. It was interesting to read that Handler l ...more
May 02, 2012 Amber added it
Amber Randol

Some people love Barbie, some people love to hate her. This book is about the history of Barbie and all of the drama that has followed her creation. It starts with the creation of the doll by Mattel and Ruth Handler in 1959. She got the idea from her daughter, and from there they followed with different trends and cultures to create different types of dolls. It includes memories from women when they were little girls and from young girls today. They talk about when they
Peter D. Sieruta
Subtitled "A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us," Tanya Lee Stone's latest nonfiction book (after last year's Sibert winner, ALMOST ASTRONAUTS : 13 WOMEN WHO DARED TO DREAM) takes a compelling look at the teenage doll that has become a cultural icon. The book traces Barbie's creation by Ruth Handler who, with her husband and another partner, founded the Mattel company, as well as the doll's evolution over the next fifty years. Beginning as an impossibly shapely figure who wore high fashion and ...more
Julie S.
This was an interesting look at Barbie, her creator, and her influence. It was a quick read with interesting side-quotes and pictures.

Predictably, it spent some time discussing how bad of an influence Barbie's unrealistic figure was. Maybe that's true for other girls, but I only have happy memories associated with Barbies. I remember that I had this cruise ship, kind of like a dollhouse in boat form. It was not official Barbie merchandise, so it did not fit the full-size Barbies. However, I had
Fun quick read for Barbie fans...interesting opposing viewpoints covered in the ongoing Barbie controversies--does she or does she not adversely affect little girls body images? Author handled history and ongoing debates in pretty even manner and I enjoyed the romp through my own childhood as well as through our own American history as seen through Barbie's controversial evolutions.

I liked the reflections on how Barbie provided a way for girls to act out their dreams through Barbie play. Mine w
For the record, I like it that Tanya Lee Stone doesn't flinch from stating an opinion. If that makes her more of a cultural critic for the junior high set than a straight-up non-fiction writer, then so be it. Actually, this study of the world's most famous doll provides a balanced study why she is loved by many, and decried by others. My favorite chapter dealt with how legions of kids have mutilated Barbie through the decades, and put her in all sorts of salacious scenarios. It's one of those th ...more
Jenn M
I played with Barbie dolls when younger, and I have friends that, even as adults, collect all the special Barbie editions and wardrobe items. I realized, however, that I really didn't know anything about the origin or history of this wildly successful, iconic piece of worldwide fascination, and so I picked up this little book.

Tanya Lee Stone has written about strong women for various projects, and in an author's note in the book, she voices her opinion that Barbie represents the very essence of
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
I can see the first part of this book being extremely useful for Ruth Handler's entrepreneurial style, with a no-fuss attitude toward getting her vision realized, as well as the dynamics and birth of a company and it's operating style. I appreciated every bit of research and history that went in to this section.

The rest is a bit slanted and I guess because I was of the mindset growing up that a Barbie was just a toy and didn't damage me psychologically, physically, or emotionally, I can't empat
This author explained the evaluation of barbie, and how barbie affects adults and kids. I thought this book really explained how Barbie can really affect us. I never thought that there were so many problems with Barbie, now that I think of it, most girls and boys always want to be perfect, just like barbie. Barbie has a perfect figure, and always has make up on her face. Her hair seems easy to handle, and her style of clothing seems to be usually brands. Some good things of barbie is that they i ...more
Edward Sullivan
An exceptionally well-written look at how Barbie dolls have reflected cultural and fashion sensibilities over the years. There is a balanced look between people who claim Barbie reinforces and promotes negative stereotypes and unhealthy attitudes about body image and consumerism, and those who see positive influences the dolls promote. The chapter discussing the inventive ways Barbies are used to enact sexual and torture scenarios are highly entertaining!
Joanne Allen
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book: YA Nonfiction, Audio book, Controversial Issue

Estimate of age level of interest: Grades 4+

Estimate of reading level: Grade 4+

Brief description: In this biographical account of Ruth Handler, the originator of the Barbie doll, Stone exposes the ‘Barbie’ doll, and the controversy surrounding it. This is an interesting read for anyone who has ever had a Barbie, or even thought about the doll.

Identify at least 2 characteristics of this genre(s)
Misty Kincade
Literary Awards: Golden Kite Award
Reading Level: 7.5
Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8)
Brief Summary:
"The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us" reveals the fascinating history of how America's most popular doll came to be. In this biography of Barbie and her creator, Ruth Handler, Stone explores how Barbie became the icon of millions of young girls and women all over the world. Using numerous excerpts throughout this biography, Stone publishes authentic remarks fr
This book really explains the different controversies about Barbie, from the idea that she influences young girls to be dissatisfied with their own bodies, to the fact that barbie has many carries and that helps a girl know she can be whoever she wants to be. Barbie has been attacked by criticism from the very first, and many would wonder why a doll could get such strong emotions out of people whether that love her or hate her. There are many who think that Barbie is a terrible role model who ca ...more
Meaghan Czyz
I actually read this book because the author spoke to my children's literature class during my senior year at Saint Michael's College and when she spoke she was in the process of writing this book still. I always loved Barbie, so I kept it in the back of my mind as something to read once it was published. I didn't go into it with any kind of political agenda or feminist views. I simply wanted to know more about Barbie. I have fond memories of the doll. Every Christmas my late great grandmother w ...more
Madigan W.
In the book The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone, the history of Barbie is told in detail as well as the love she generates. Barbie has had a love-hate relationship with girls and women, therefore, this doll is the subject of much controversy. The author’s central idea of the story is that a doll can bring so much joy to a little girl, or it can bring negative thoughts to girls or women about their self-image, personality, or status. This doll made countless childhood memories f ...more
Kristin Bateman
An interesting, quick-read on the history of Barbie and some of her "controversy."
Brielle Mecham
Tanya Lees Stone portrays how the time period of barbie went along. The connection of the world through this one doll was cool to see. Not being in the time and growing up playing with barbies a lot I saw her help the women of the wold stand up for what they want and not letting the men enslave them. The way that barbie started from a piece of paper then transformed into a 3D doll was incredible and then from the doll became anything you imagined helped the world continue to develop. Barbie even ...more
Devon Yem
Throughout Barbie, Tanya Lee Stone looks at the idea of feminism through Barbie. Stone uses the Barbie doll as a symbol for the woman's rights movement. She does this by showing Barbie in big moments leading to her success, as well as in pictures of her throughout the years. I think its interesting how she does this because she doesn't directly say it, but you can tell. She makes it obvious that not only is Barbie a big part of the women's rights movement, but she also represents it in many ways ...more
Josie S.
The book, The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie-A Doll’s History and Her Impact On us is about how Ruth Handler created the Barbie, the history behind it, and the negative feedback the Barbie received. It emphasizes a lot on how mothers of daughters who play with Barbie’s think that they are a bad role model because they are the “perfect image of a girl”. I think what the author wants us to take away is basically just facts about the history of this quite popular doll. The author included some facts ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I ended up really enjoying this book in a way completely different from my previously more ignorant Barbie bashing. While at first I was a little confused by the rather more positive portrait the author was painting that was different from what I had expected. On the other hand, the positives are ideas that I never would have thought of but can't refute either. The story behind the development and the social times was fascinating and really adds insight to the argument. My personal feeling I sti ...more
Joanna Price
Appropriate for middle and high school aged women. This work of nonfiction explores the history of Barbie. Targeted at young adults, it questions whether Barbie is an influence for positive change or a reflection of negative stereotypes ingrained in our culture. The strongest feature of this book is its recounting of the woman who created Barbie and her life. It does not explain the theoretical foundations behind the criticism of Barbie, and for that reason, is not recommended for elementary age ...more
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Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Her work, which includes YA fiction (A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl), picture books (Elizabeth Leads the Way and Sandy's Circus), and nonfiction (Almost Astronauts and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) has won national awards such as the ALA's Sibert Medal, SCBWI's Golden Kite Award, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Jane Add ...more
More about Tanya Lee Stone...
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

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