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review 2020-05-01 20:56
Barbie and the Ghost Town Mystery, Barbie #11 by Eleanor K. Woolvin
Barbie and the Ghost Town Mystery - Eleanor K. Woolvin

All the points awarded for being just absolutely crazy.


This is the last of the novels and anthologies Random House published for Mattel. To my knowledge no other full-length chapter book has been produced since. Subsequent books in the '70s, '80s and on have a shorter page count and are geared towards a younger audience. Is it because children cease playing with dolls at a younger age than they used to? It's too bad these stopped, because they were just starting to get REALLY interesting.


Barbie and her family are spending a winter holiday with friends in California. They have plans to fly home to Willows for Christmas eve, but Mr. Roberts had business things to do and nicely invited his family along. The Murchisons have two boys: 18-year-old, beefy, goatee'd Pete who loves science and 14-year-old Larry whose characterization is that he's a boy.


At a backyard barbeque, Skipper and Barbie are challenged by the brothers on their ability to survive in the wilderness and are jokingly invited on a camping trip in the desert. The girls call their bluff and set out to the Mojave desert with them the next morning.


There's car trouble on a back road, but fortunately a town is just in site on the horizon. The four make the journey and discover its a ghost town.


They are then shot at. A prospector out of central casting is mighty suspicious of these suburban kids and their undoubted lust for his gold. They are rescued by a mute Hispanic boy, who leads them to an idyllic pueblo 'castle' built by an older couple.


The older couple, the Bonesteels, welcome the children, but they have no telehone and it seems like their car is out of order, too! Coincidence? Barbie and Skipper are stuck and risk missing their flight home for Christmas, which devastates Skipper.


This book is very hard to find and over 50 years old, but is so bonkers I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might get their hands on it. Things get really weird, but somehow it all works out in the end with a little help from guns, a mule named Mirabel, a cigar store Indian, and dress-up. There's a real mystery here and moments of real danger for Barbie, Skipper and their friends.



Skipper wears 'Day at the Fair' #1911, which included a miniature Barbie doll! Barbie is in the classic early outfit 'Sweater Girl' #976, complete with accessories. The necklace is not Mattel, but was issued by Cleinman and Sons as part of a matching set of jewelry for Barbie and owner and advertised in Christmas catalogs in the early '60s.


Barbie Random House Novels


Previous: 'Barbie's Candy-Striped Summer'

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review 2020-04-30 20:31
Barbie in Television, Barbie #8 by Marianne Duest
Barbie in Television - Marianne Duest,Robert Patterson

Willows High is abuzz with the news: Juniors and Seniors can take a month of school to get a job! Of course, there are stipulations. One must have at least a B average and agree to write a report about their experience.


Barbie's well-connected parents know a couple in Florida who would only be too happy to host Barbie for the month and can pull strings at a television station down there. Barbie is also excited, because there's an exotic animal preserve where Midge could get work as well!


'Barbie in Television' follows the typical format for these books: Barbie gets spectacular opportunity, travels to an exciting location, crushes the opportunity like a boss and dates cute boy. I was hoping that the tease at the start of the book meant that Midge got to have some fun as well, but no dice. It turns out Midge was so focused on cheer-leading in the fall she let her grades slip and doesn't quite make it to the B+ her parents require, so she is denied permission to go on the trip.


Duest at least has Midge call Barbie out on her privilege: pointing out Barbie's internship in New York and being a cover girl for a teen magazine for God's sakes, but, Midge is forced to grin and bear it and be left behind in Willows with Ken and the rest. She also has to admit that its her own fault for trying to have everything the way Barbie does.


Carefree, Barbie is free to make new friends. Her companions are a Brazilian exchange student, Blanquita, who helps Barbie with her elocution and a hotshot baseball rookie, Danny Folger, who's on the cusp of going pro with the "Green Socks"


Barbie stands up to some serious toxic masculine behavior here, ignoring bad pickup lines and unapologeticly doing her job. She, of course, fixes him later, but we'll take the small victories the writers inserted into these books. Another highlight is working woman Pat Larkin, the station's program director who works full time and counts on her husband to take the roast out of the freezer.


Other than Midge's disappointment, the real reason this book gets a heavy star reduction is a "romantic" legend of a Native American warrior falling so in love with the daughter of a Spanish conquistador that after her death she is taken out into the bay and the warrior, plus 50-100 other braves sink their canoes and kill themselves so they can guard her resting place in the afterlife. This legend is the basis of an exciting festival and parade in the Florida town that Barbie visits and is the focus of her teen journalism. Is this based on reality? Because, wow, that's horrible. It certainly sounds like something midcentury America would celebrate.


Other key plot points involve a haunted ruin of a hotel and a mysterious hobo whose house Barbie and Blanquita break into.



Two versions of 'Casuals' #782 from 1961-1964. The striped shirt is a later version. They're missing small gold car keys and I left off their red hats to show off their glorious, reflocked hair. Jon filled in the bald spots and followed the original pattern so they look mint!


Barbie Random House Novels:


Next: 'Barbie, Midge and Ken'


Previous: 'Barbie's Secret'

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review 2020-04-29 21:08
Barbie Goes to a Party by Jean Bethell
Barbie Goes to a Party - Jean Bethell,Claudine Nankivel

"Nancy invited me to a party, what should I wear?"

"What about this? No? Or that?"

"No mother, but, what about this?"

"Not for a party!"

"Hi Barbie, are you going to Nancy's party?"

"Hello, Midge. Yes, are you going to Nancy's party?"

"Yes, Barbie. What are you going to wear?"

"I don't know. What are you wearing to the party?"

"I don't know. Let's call Sue."

"Hi Sue, are you going to Nancy's party?"

"Yes, Barbie. Are you going to Nancy's party?"

"Yes, Sue, what are you going to wear?"

"I don't know. What are you going to wear Barbie?"

So many pages. Soooo many pages.

My brain felt like mush. The book did have fun pictures that detailed many, many, actual Barbie outfits and the backdrops were copied from 'Barbie's Dream House'. Its fun as a collector, but this had no redeeming story value at all. Clothing is rejected with no explanation - I would have killed for a didactic explanation of party etiquette and dress codes.



Skipping product numbers and year.


Seven outfits not worn to the party: 'Orange Blossom', 'Swingin' Easy', 'Theatre Date', ''Fancy Free', 'Fashion Pak Knit Dress', 'Senior Prom', and 'After Five'.

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review 2020-04-28 22:28
Barbie the Baby Sitter by Jean Bethell
Barbie the Babysitter - Jean Bethell

'Barbie the Baby Sitter' is an early reader picture book, so I wasn't expecting a complicated story. The problem came with this book breaking the single most common-sense rule of these books and makes it impossible to enjoy on any level.


The story involves Barbie agreeing to baby-sit the dreaded Tyler twins on the same night she has to write a story for school. The twins get up to mischief and prevent Barbie from thinking about what to write until she realizes that her life is the story.


The problem is that at every opportunity the words and the pictures are out of sync. The text will describe Barbie looking for one twin or the other, but the picture on that same page shows us what the little bastards are doing. There's no suspense and really no reason for kids to bother reading the text at all.


The pictures, particularly the opening shot of Midge and Barbie discussing homework in front of a mid-century modern street, are charming, but can't make up for the other flaws.



Midge wears #953 'Barbie Baby Sits' from 1963 (it was tweaked and re-released in 1965 with some accessories swapped out). I'm missing the list of phone numbers, snacks, and other pieces, but is still a cute set.

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review 2020-02-02 23:30
Barbie's Adventures at Camp by Carl Memling
Barbie's Adventures at Camp - Carl Memling,Burmah Burris

This is an unobjectionable picture book. Well, it would be if it weren't so forgettable. A picture book has ~30 or so pages to impress a story, a moral, or images on a young reader, and this one fails to inspire anything but faint confusion. The book launches into three pretty girls - I think one is sleepy, one has glasses and the other is 'lively' - arriving at camp and loving their Junior Counselor, Barbie. Right away the lively one, Kim, gets into trouble and wanders away, which she proceeds to do at every opportunity. Barbie is scolded for losing her charge and so spends the majority of her time taking care of this girl. The other two, sleepy and glasses, grow resentful at their apparent neglect, and hatch a plan to get attention.


I'm not sure what the lesson is - it may have been don't forget those who don't demand your attention, but Kim's "special" skills sort of save the day in the end. So those girls should have been fine with unequal attention?


It's all beyond me. The only tie-in with the brand was a weird letter Barbie writes to Midge that literally ends with "Have you seen Ken?"

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