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Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History and Legacy by Robin Gerber

Barbie Forever is an impressive hardback, a celebration of Barbie dolls since 1959. Author Robin Gerber wanted to address the following key questions: How had Barbie lasted so long? And how long will she go on? Her journey lead her to the Mattel headquarters in California and she spoke to the designers, marketers and managers there, having already written a book about Ruth Handler.


Who is Ruth Handler you might ask? Ruth was the brainchild behind Barbie, at a time when pretty much the only dolls on offer for young girls was baby dolls and paper cut outs. She came up with the idea that if young girls enjoyed mimicking grownups around them, they would have rich play with a three-dimensional figure, a teenage doll – and Barbie was born, alongside a growing wardrobe inspired from around the world.


The book follows the story of Ruth Handler’s vision through to the modern day, and it includes colour photos, original sketches, vintage photos, advertisements, a foldout timeline and a comprehensive bibliography.


Well-written and researched, Barbie Forever is a fascinating history of a doll that has captured the hearts of many young girls over the decades, and it goes a long way to explaining why Barbie has endured for so long. It looks likely this iconic doll will be around in decades to come also.


‘Barbie represents the fearlessness and boundless imagination we all hope to achieve in our lives,’ says Olympic Medallist Ibithaj Muhummad in the foreword.


Is this an overstatement? You will need to read to find out for yourself, but there is no denying Barbie’s appeal to the young girls that I know.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Quarto Group, RRP $59.99

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