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For the Kids

Books for the kids

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Barbie and her Japanese Friend

Barbie’s Secret
1964 (original copyright 1958)

Barbie, our complicated friend who has trouble with career choices and men (Ken, what is wrong with you?) is now facing some cultural challenges as she hosts an exchange student from Japan. Barbie meets the wonderful Yoshiko and helps her fit in to the good life in America. First up, change her name to something more appropriate. Yoshiko’s new name is Posy. Much better, right? All your favorite Asian stereotypes are right here for your entertainment. Probably a good idea if there are no plans for a “UN Ambassador” Barbie.

Sorry, I didn’t read far enough to find out Barbie’s secret.



More Kid Lit:

Jinny Williams Returns!

Trouble After School

Susan Brown, Camp Counselor

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Bogota or Bust

The Land and People of Columbia

Submitter: This book is older than dirt, has no color pictures, and has some racist overtones. Because it is from 1970, some of the language is dated and inappropriate. There are plenty of ways to deal with complicated history in an age appropriate manner. Here’s a sample of the text: “By 1700, whatever the cause may have been, the Chibchas had replaced their own language with Spanish and had largely abandoned their old religion to become pious and devoted Christians. They were relatively peacefully assimilated into the ways of the Spanish, and many, through their marriages with whites, lost their Indian identity; their children of mixed blood form the largest blood strain in Columbia today. (Racial prejudice has never been a strong factor in Columbia’s life and history.)–page 46

Holly: Country books have a life span of maybe ten years. Maaayyybe twenty years in some cases. A book about the land and people of the United States, written in 1970, would include images and attitudes that no longer represent what our country is really like. Why, then, is it OK to have books about other countries that are 40+ years old? Answer: it isn’t. This is a juvenile book, so isn’t it important that children learn about countries and cultures respectfully, appropriately, and – oh, I don’t know – accurately?

More Country Studies:

Vietnam Policy for Kids

Land of Enchantment

Will the Soviet Union Survive?

Jungle Life

Grecian Vacation

Oh Canada!

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Mom, You’re Fired!


Mom, You’re Fired

Tina is just dying of embarrassment! Her mom is just not normal.  Her friend Melissa has the most PERFECT mom. Tina’s list of her mom’s faults are quite amusing: she doesn’t dress like June Cleaver or have any sense of appropriate conversation topics. (Tina’s mom talked about UNDERWEAR in front of everyone on the bus.)

To me, embarrassing parents are a given. Not a bad theme for a youth fiction, but the cover art is pretty old looking. Not necessarily awful, but probably dated enough to make it a candidate for weeding if it isn’t circulating.

Speaking as a mother, though, I would say it is my sworn duty to embarrass my children.



More Kid Fiction:

The Boy With Dinosaur Hands

AIDS in the End Zone

The Man Who Loved Clowns

Taffy Sinclair and Romance Machine Disaster

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