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Little Golden Books of Barbarous Banality

Perusers of supermarket checkout displays will be familiar with the standard arrays of Kit Kats, Who Magazine‘s 100 Most Infuriating People Who Are Already Famous and Little Golden Books. One of their biggest-ever sellers is The Poky Little Puppy. I am unqualified to comment on the puppy’s pokiness, but I’m pretty sold on another Golden Book I found. . .

On the back it says “We salute the talented authors and artists who create the books”. I couldn’t agree more after reading Barbie: In the Spotlight, a Little Golden Book which is made up of some text and some photographs of a Barbie doll and some other very similar dolls, some of which have pretendy goatees and look to have recently failed a Village Peopleaudition.

Barbie is the star, and she is wearing a black miniskirt, black high-heeled pumps and a faux Chanel jacket. If you’re not familiar with the faux Chanel jacket, think Nancy Reagan or any of those emaciated, repulsively wealthy women who look like baby birds with papier-mâché piñata heads. The texture of the fabric is not dissimilar to onsite caravan bumpy upholstery and I think it’s called bouclé.

Anyway, Barbie is, of course, a television reporter, and she goes to interview a new fashion designer called Kelvin (my guess is his mates Craig and Wingnut for Yves Saint Laurent will be chartreuse with envy).

GUESS WHAT: Barbie has to step in and be the model instead of finishing her story. So her sister Skipper steps in and becomes the reporter (which is how most reporters started!).

Thankfully, Skipper turns out to be Barbie’s sister who had brought two friends, because in the previous pages it had seemed that Barbie was being stalked by a badly dressed cult.

Skipper wears a matching lime green twin set, miniskirt, and high-heeled shoes with gigantic flat daisies on them. Also her long blonde hair goes all the way down to her bum and she looks like someone has just this moment sucked all her brains out with a reverse thrust leaf-blower.

One of the problems with using still photos of posed dolls is that they have no expression on their face whatsoever (At least the Thunderbirds people had feral eyebrows).

The same lobotomised look can accompany lines such as “How would you advise the United Nations to respond to the Congo situation?”, “Look out, it’s a woman in flat shoes” and “Barbie, your arse is on fire and Ken’s got your head in a bowling bag!”. (Lawyers Note: None of these lines actually appear in any Little Golden Books).

Every character looks like it has been dressed and designed by a screaming nancy boy who hasn’t taken his lithium. This is disturbing because there is no list of credits and I would very much like to get in touch with that screaming nancy boy and be his new best friend.

It has certainly whet my appetite for some of the other titles in the Little Golden Book range such as Very Busy BarbieTrail Blazer Barbie and Barbie: The Big Splash, although not as much as I’d like to see Rather Slovenly BarbieUnambitious Barbie and Barbie: The Surprisingly Slack Moll. (Lawyers Note: OH MY GOD – See previous advisement).

I shall certainly be keeping an eye out for the Little Golden Book About God, which I hope will be illustrated with pictures of little magnetised dashboard saints arranged around a balsawood card table for the Last Supper.

I am also not very happy about the idea of Winnie The Pooh: Eeyore, Be Happy! because it would create a precedent and spawn other ironic literary spin-offs such as Lady Macbeth, Get A Grip! and even Alice Doesn’t Go Anywhere Near A Looking Glass and Gets Her Homework Done!

Little Golden Books blurb writers suggest the books promote literacy. I simply put to you: is it worth it? Do the ends justify the means?

. . . and when Barbie says “Reporting on International Fashion Week is so exciting. An assignment like this makes my job interesting”, why doesn’t someone hold her down and snap her arms off?

Kaz Cooke

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