Barbie and the Rockers: The Fan by Teddy SlaterDelia wins a contest to spend a weekend with Barbie and The Rockers, for her essay What Music Means to Me. Delia is to try out for a place at the Los Angeles High School of Music, and has been practicing hard with her violin. When she sees the glamorous lifestyle of The Rockers, though, she decides shell give up violin and learn to play guitar, so she can join the band. The Rockers show Delia that being in a rock band isnt all fun, though--its a lot of hard work, too. So, Delia decides to keep practicing with her violin, and The Rockers promise her a seat at any of their concerts.
Barbie and The Rockers: The Fan, written by Teddy Slater and illustrated by Tom Tierney, features characters from the popular Barbie toys. My summary above makes the book sound like a pretty good book for kids, but its got some problems, too.
First, the book (like the toys, I suppose) implies that the kind of glamorous clothing worn by the band is something that Delia (and, by proxy, all girls) should be envious of, and that they should feel that ordinary clothing is inadequate. It says that Delia was dazzled by the glittering clothes and couldnt help comparing them with her own skirt and sweater. She felt painfully plain--especially when Dereks eyes lit up at the sight of Diva modeling one of the outfits. But Delia is wearing a perfectly nice outfit. One might expect the book to give the lesson that its not necessary to dress in flashy clothing, and that its the person, not the clothes, that matters, but it doesnt. The message from the book is that Delia is right to be ashamed of her (relatively) simple clothing, and that if girls want to attract the eyes of someone like Derek, they must also dress in fancy clothing. Bad lesson.
As for the lesson that its hard work being in a rock band: well, thats true, but thats all the lesson is. They just have Delia watch them spend a few hours trying to record an album, and she decides that its too much work, and thats that. They mention that when Delia has a violin concert, they want tickets, because theyre fans of her, too, but that just comes out of the blue. The book doesnt really push the message that Delias hard work practicing with the violin is also valuable, or anything like that. The book just says that being in a rock band and wearing expensive clothing is way better than anything else, but you have to spend time recording music in order to do it. And... thats it.
Barbie and The Rockers: The Fan isnt wholly unsalvageable, but it misses plenty of opportunities for good lessons, and seems to teach very bad lessons. I cant recommend this one.
This review also appears on my blog.
Barbie and The Rockers
The story was based on the Barbie and the Rockers line of dolls, which featured Barbie as the leader of a rock band. The special originally aired in syndication as a two-part television "miniseries" with each installment lasting approximately 25 minutes; part two was titled Barbie and the Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth. The miniseries was supposed to have been the pilot for a Monday—Friday Barbie cartoon series. However, negotiations between DIC and Mattel fell through, and the project eventually emerged with a whole new set of characters—and the sponsorship of Mattel rival Hasbro —as Maxie's World in The two-part special was later released on video as a single film by Hi-Tops Video.
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With the popularity of the Kidz Bop series and likeminded kid-oriented albums of pop hits, it was only a matter of time before the longstanding queen of preteen culture, Barbie , got in on the act. However, the compilation actually reveals Barbie to be a relatively hip DJ. Barbie must be a big OutKast fan, because none of the other songs on Barbie Hit Mix sound as much like the original versions. In fact, most of the rest of the songs are performed by a female vocalist who might as well be Barbie herself and a chorus of girls. Baby One More Time.