Reviewed by Katy Killilea
I have no daughters, but I’ve gathered that Bratz dolls and spangled Barbies are as inevitable as light sabers and Nerf gu—Nerf dart propelling devices are for boys. I grew up with loads of Barbies in the 1970s, and I remember my mom diligently balancing my Barbie lust with Free to Be You and Me (book and album) and a story book called Girls Can Do Anything. I remember my mom telling me, “You know you won’t look like Barbie when you grow up. You’ll probably look like me.” I was happy–what little girl doesn’t think her mom is the most beautiful woman in the world? Until…the disembodied Barbie head with makeup kit came on the market. That sealed it: I wanted makeup! Skimpy clothes! And to be an ice angel on Donnie and Marie!
For parents looking to balance out their home’s collection of–what precisely is the real offense?–slutty/pornographic/unrealistic body image-inducing/etc. toys, consider Girls Are Not Chicks. This is the coloring book with a Rapunzel who rescues herself, using duct tape and a Tina Turner album, and a Little Miss Muffet who matter-of-factly tells an encroaching spider, “I ain’t moving from this tuffet.” There are girls and boys–or girls with short hair. Or boys with long hair. Probably boys and girls. Without all of the stereotypical gender signifiers, it’s impossible to say–riding a school bus together to a place with lots of drums and co-ed ice hockey.
Quirky, smart, and funny? Yes. A coloring book? Ostensibly, but it’s even more fun to read and discuss: girls on tractors, girls covering the numbers on their scales with stickers, and girls with no hair ribbons or skirts, so maybe they’re boys. Look how sad Mrs. Peter Pumpkin Eater is living in that dank pumpkin! Even if it won’t inspire a girl to abandon her vixen dolls, it will add a little oomph to her collection.
Girls Are Not Chicks
by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak
2009 by PM Press $10