Reading Part Nine – 1964 Barbie Babysits

14 Apr

I love vintage children’s books, so maybe its not surprising that I aspire to extend my Barbie collection in this direction. Vintage Barbie books are not easy to find in the UK, but I can dream. A little while ago, I was lucky enough to get hold of a lovely Burmah Burris illustrated book called “Barbie’s Adventures at Camp”. My next vintage Barbie book is not Burmah Burris illustrated, and I presume that this is why it cost me less. The illustrations are by Claudine Nankivel. Actually, I think the style of the illustration is just as charming. Its a Wonder Book (“with washable covers!”) from 1964:

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As you can see, the story basically follows Barbie as she wrestles with the very modern dilemma of work/ life balance – babysitting for rather naughty twins whilst writing an essay for school. One of the things I like about these illustrations is how she is drawn with a band round the bottom as well as the top of her ponytail:

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Which is of course how the dolls from this time would have looked. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe that this was a common 1960’s hairstyle. I’m sure I read somewhere that the dolls were manufactured this way to help train the ponytail to lie flat at the back while in the box. (By the way, the young lady to the left of Barbie is Midge).

I am rather puzzled by Barbie’s special Babysitting Apron, which seems to have “good boys” written below one pocket and “good girls” written below the other. I suppose that Barbie’s identity and role is nearly always defined by her clothes (for example, the “I Can Be …” career dolls) but I’m not even sure what the apron means – maybe treats in the pockets for well behaved children? Still, I think its a little bit of overkill in an otherwise beautifully drawn series of illustrations.

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