Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Doll Book of the Month Club: Missing Melinda

   The sort of second part of the Our Dolls,Ourselves post will have to wait a little longer. It's the first of the month,and time for the next entry in The Doll Book of the Month Club.
  This month's book is "Missing Melinda",by Jacqueline Jackson. It was first published in 1967. The illustrations in mine are by Irene Burns.

Mine is a somewhat grubby ex-library edition.

  This book has been sitting here waiting to be read for years. We bought it at the library sale,where the books are donated by the library and regular people,and sold to raise money for the library. I always meant to read it to Ivy,but never got around to it. We bought so many books at the book sale and from school order forms, as well as the book store. We couldn't read them all! So I finally got around to reading it myself a couple of weeks ago.
  At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I didn't think much of the writing at the very beginning. It got better quickly, and I ended up enjoying it. Beware though! The very first few pages give away the endings of several doll based books, including "Miss Hickory",(which you can read my post on HERE.) and "The Doll's House", by Rumer Godden,which I recently featured as The Doll Book of the Month. You can see that post HERE.

Edited for your protection.

  "Missing Melinda" involves a pair of twin girls who move into an old deceased relative's loaded house. They venture into the crowded attic the first day there, and find a very old and beautiful doll, who they name Melinda. 

Finding Melinda inspires them to write a book. "Missing Melinda" is actually the book they supposedly write about their adventure.

  The adventure really gets going when the girls take Melinda to the park, in a wagon. The girls decide to climb a tree,leaving Melinda below in the wagon, lest they break her. When they come back down they discover that Melinda has been stolen.

  As I said, the book is 'written' by the twins,who alternate chapters. They're a colourful couple of kids,who have developed the habit of quoting Shakespeare, and using his flowery speech, from their Shakespeare addicted father. (The girls are even named Cordelia and Ophelia.)
  The twins set out to find who stole Melinda, and get her back. Along the way they get help from the boy next door, Jimmy, who insists he doesn't want girl neighbours to play with,(but could they play with him, please?).
He helps the girls as they try to solve the mystery of Melinda's disappearance. Jimmy actually knows quite a lot about dolls himself, and introduces the girls to one of their suspects.
   They have a list of suspects to investigate. The suspect that Jimmy introduces them to is a lady who knows a lot about dolls. The author must have known quite a bit about dolls,because the character, Mrs. Otis, reels off loads of doll makers and names,as well as describing various dolls. She gives them a tour of her doll filled house and takes them to a doll hospital. Both trips are filled with descriptions of dolls, and doll mechanisms. There's so much to take in! You'll see many names you'll recognize if you know anything about dolls yourself. Mrs. Otis and the doll hospital 'doctor' even go into some history on dolls,and it's all quite interesting. So much so that I wonder if kids would enjoy this book as much as a grown doll collector! It's all enjoyable though, even if a child might feel somewhat  bogged down with 'boring' information at various times.
  That's not to say a child wouldn't enjoy the book. The twins are likeable. There's mystery and humour. The girls visit some interesting places and run into memorable characters.

The ending, especially, is exciting. It's a race to catch the culprit before Melinda disappears forever.

  The only age recommendation I could find said 7 to 10 year olds,but there was also a review by someone who said it was their favourite book in middle school. (I think middle schoolers read more mature things these days,which isn't to say some might not still enjoy the book.)
  I found that Jacqueline Jackson is a local lady! She was born in Washington,worked as a professor of English at the University of Illinois,but at the time "Missing Melinda" was written, she lived in Kent, Ohio,and taught Children's Literature at Kent State University. (Kent State was the site of the famous 1970 shooting, where the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the bombing of neutral Cambodia,killing four, and injuring nine, students. The incident was the inspiration for the song "Four Dead in Ohio" by Crosby,Stills,Nash,and Young.)
  Here's the inside of the "Missing Melinda" dust jacket.

 So her daughters reading interests,and actual requests, inspired "Missing Melinda". Other books by Jacqueline Jackson include "Julie's Secret Sloth", "The Paleface Redskins","The Ghost Boat", and "The Taste of Spruce Gum".  According to Good Reads she considers "Stories From the Round Barn" and "More Stories From the Round Barn" to be her best works.
  I enjoyed "Missing Melinda",and I recommend it for kids who like mysteries with a bit of humour,people who are interested in dolls,and kids who like a good, interesting read they can really get into. The book appears to be out of print, but a used copy can be found on Amazon or Ebay. Some of them can be quite expensive,so shop well!

Play Sets: Iilco Kitchen

  The second part of the last post will have to wait a bit. Today is the last day of the month and time for the Play Set of the month!
  This month's play set is the Iilco kitchen.

There were originally middle cabinet doors too. I only have one because I bought mine at a yard sale,so I just leave them off and  pretend it's supposed to be this way!
  This kitchen was made in 1977. That accounts for the brown and gold colour scheme and the backsplash pattern.

    It was made by the Illfelder Toy Company of new York.

The kitchen was wired for electricity, and powered by D batteries.

  The electricity powered a huge outlet on the counter top...

...and the lights in the oven,which doubled as lights in the stove top burners.

Under the black plastic rings are clear plastic circles for the light to shine through.

This is under the burners,on the inside of the oven.
   The set originally came with a blender that really ran on the electricity by plugging into the outlet,and a set of yellow plastic kitchen ware that included a kettle, a sauce pan with lid, and a casserole dish with lid.

I found this picture of the box on the internet. I'll remove it if asked.
   There can also be running water too,by hooking a tube in the back up to water.

The water tube is next to the battery door. Probably not an entirely good idea.

This thing is really short. Has it been cut? How do you run water through it?

It says it recycles the water for a constant supply of running water. I'm not sure how it 'recycles' it though.
   The knob on the stove turns on the stove light,and the knob below the sink turns on the water.

I found this picture of the directions on the internet too.

The upper cupboard doors open... well as the oven door...

...and the left bottom cupboard.
And what do I store in my kitchen? Why, another kitchen,of course.
The oven shelf is removable...and in this case, broken.

   Sorry for the somewhat grungy looking state of this thing. It's been stored in a tub, so I don't know why it looks so dirty.

  That's this month's play set. Tomorrow we'll see another Doll Book of the Month.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Our Dolls,Ourselves

  Thanks to everyone who has sent Fuzzy get well wishes. He's doing fine now. Now Ivy is sick! She hasn't had a fever,just nausea,congestion and sore throat. Hopefully they both have,or had, nothing but the flu.
**For those of you offended by classical paintings and statues,there is artistic nudity below.**
  Last month was Black History Month. You may have read my post about The Doll Test. In the test the researchers gave African American children two dolls,one White and one painted brown. (The tests were originally done in the 1940's, and the researchers were unable to find an African American baby doll. They had to paint a White one.) The children were asked questions, including,'Which doll looks like you?' The children attributed racist stereotypes to the brown dolls,which suggested to  researchers how the children saw themselves. This month is Women's History Month. In this post I'm going to discuss how women's opinions of themselves are affected by dolls,or if they are affected by them at all. If they're not,what does affect them?
  For years researchers,psychologists,and regular people have complained that Barbie doll's exaggerated body has given little girls the idea that they have to have a huge bust, a tiny waist, and unnaturally long legs to be 'perfect'. Does Barbie's body really have that much influence on a child's image of herself? There are a lot of other things which might influence a child's self image. Television and movies,fashion models,peer pressure,etc.,all might contribute to a child's idea of what they 'should' look like. I really think that Barbie and other dolls more likely reflect what society sees as the 'perfect' woman, rather than setting the standard. (Also, I'd like to point out that there were several dolls in the Barbie line that were not built like a brick Barbie doll. Francie, Casey, and Twiggy were all narrow hipped and small busted. More modern times saw Teen Skipper, who had a smaller bust and hips than Barbie. There were also other Mattel lines that featured 'teen' dolls like Starr and her friends,who had more teen-like bodies.)
  So I can't blame the whole thing on Barbie. I think it's much more likely that real women, who have given us ideals way beyond most women's reach, are more to blame. (Rail thin models for example.) But where did they get the idea that being that size and shape was the ideal? Fashion designers want super thin models to wear their clothes because it supposedly makes the clothes look better. But does it also give women the idea, possibly only subconsciously, that the clothes will make them look like the models? I look at the models and wonder why in the world anyone would want to be that thin. To me they look like victims of a concentration camp. But I grew up in an era when women were 'supposed to' be more zaftig. Of course,it was also the era that Twiggy became a style icon,so we're back to that thin thing again.
    When I was growing up the cliche 'perfect woman' was supposed to have the measurements 36-24-36. When Barbie first came about, the 36-24-36 standard was in full effect. In 2020 a woman with those measurements might be considered fat. So where did that standard start? Where do any of them start?
  With all the complaints about body shaming and fat shaming,there are more women who aren't trying to be so thin. But most are still slaves to the idea that they should look like malnourished little boys. Having a 'thigh gap' is still something a lot of women strive for. I watched a movie a couple of days ago and was a bit creeped out by how thin the actress was. I won't say who it was. Maybe she's naturally that thin. But I don't think so.
  But we're still faced with the question,where does the idea of the 'perfect' woman come from? It didn't start with Barbie. Adult lady dolls with mature figures existed long before Barbie,(In spite of what Mattel would like you to think!). Miss Revlon and her competitors had smaller busts,but were indeed curvy, with long legs. (Mind you, most legs look long to me. Mine are very short.) In the 1800's there were dolls with the wasp waist popular in that era,achieved by corsets that changed the very positioning of a woman's innards.

Dolls have always been made to reflect the beauty standards of their time. Those standards change over the years. Not just dolls, but paintings reflected the beauty standards of their times. Ruebens' ladies are considered fat and flabby today, but, in the time they were painted, their figures were considered beautiful.
Man,was I born too late. The Three Graces by Peter Paul Rubens

  To quote Peter Cook's 'Pete' character, Ruebens "does all the paintings of fat ladies with nothing on. Great, pink, fat ladies." Cezanne had a painting called Les Grandes Baigneuses. Les Grandes Baigneuses literally translates to 'The Large Bathers'.

 To quote Peter Cook's 'Pete' again, "'Les Grandes Baigneuses'. You know what that means,don't you? Big Bathers." (You may have guessed that I love this sketch, from Peter Cook/Dudley Moore's 1960's TV series. Check it out. It can kill some time in quarantine if nothing else. You can see the sketch HERE. The conversation on the paintings starts at about 5 minutes in.)
Sculptuary also reflects the beauty standards of it's time.

The Venus De Milo is a little big in the hips,but at least she doesn't have to worry about upper arm flab...
   Ancient figures of woman show different forms.

This one is a bit Kim Kardashian-ish.

This one is ancient too. How did they make a sculpture of me way back then?!

This dancing girl,sculpted in 2500 B.C. is quite a bit more slim.
 Maybe they depict the fashionable shape of the day, or maybe they were just modeled after women  the artist found at hand.   
  But where do the standards come from?
  Is it men? Men have obsessions with certain female parts, and that doesn't change. (They 'like big butts and they cannot lie'.)What men like has always been a major influence on everything. But even most men polled say they don't like women to be so thin. So why do women think they have to be so thin?! I'm not sure there's a clear answer to that. 
  And then there's still the question of how much influence dolls have on a child's opinion of themselves and their idea of what they should grow up to look like. I don't remember my kids ever thinking they had to look like Barbie dolls. Ivy explains that she never liked Barbie dolls when she was small because she didn't think they were realistic looking. She did get some as she got older,but she was particular about which ones she liked. They were usually the special ones like 'big dress dolls' or ethnic ones. I never thought I had to,or should, look like my dolls. It's a good thing. I mean,you've seen some of my childhood dolls.

One of my favourites,Little Miss No Name. Ken can't look at her because he says she looks like 'Ignorance and Want' from "A Christmas Carol". You can see her post HERE.
I guess he is skinny... Pixie Brennan,richest man in the world,and one of my first and favourite dolls. You can see his post HERE.
Not my original Beany doll,but one just like him,(without the facial scars and with the tongue! You can read about that HERE.)
Ivy has a red dress version of my green dressed doll. Same face though. You can see this girl's post HERE.
One of  my all time favourites, my childhood Sad Eyes Doll. Ok,I did always want big brown eyes, (which at least I used to have),and dark hair... You can see her post HERE.
This guy recently replaced my childhood Happy Herman Are you starting to see a theme here? I loved dolls that were either extremely sad looking,or extremely goofy looking. Hmmm...maybe I did want to look like my dolls...
  I liked the sad looking dolls because they looked like they needed loved. They needed me. I always had a problem with depression, even as a small kid. Maybe I saw my own depression in the dolls and thought I could give them the help I needed. As an adult I sort of revelled in my misery. My sister had a print of  John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott when I was in my twenties, which she said was me, because, "She has your hair and she looks all miserable."

   I did have a bunch of orange haired dolls,which I guess I related to? They had those goofy faces though. I didn't want to look like them, but maybe I thought I did? For the record, my sister and I did have Barbie dolls, Tressy, Francie,Tammy,(when I was really small),and Glamour Misty. But I never thought about looking like them. If I had striven to look like my Barbie doll,I'd be bald now.
  Ok. I didn't want to look like my dolls, but I did always think I was too fat. I look at pictures of myself when I was 105 or 112 pounds,(Not anorexic! Just a naturally small person.), and wonder how I ever thought I was fat.

Lori, and me, in 1981, when we were about 19, and I was about 110 pounds.
But at the time, I felt my bust was too big, my 34 inch hips were too wide, and my thighs were too fat. (I now realize they were muscley from riding a bike all the time.) What I wouldn't give to be so 'fat' now! Why did I think I was fat then? Why did I think I needed to be so thin? Where does the idea come from?
   In 2006 researchers did tests with little girls by giving them three choices: Barbie dolls, dolls with more realistic shapes, and no dolls. They then asked the girls questions about their body image. The girls who looked at the Barbie dolls 'tended to have internalized a more negative body image than the other two groups of girls had.' But they had just looked at the dolls. Maybe in half an hour they would have forgotten about it. Maybe not.
  Maybe dolls like Barbie do give girls the idea that they need to measure up to her. But maybe if the girls had a good self image in the first place,they wouldn't be so influenced by the dolls. Girls of younger and younger ages are worried about their appearance these days, I don't remember having any image, when I was very small, of what I needed to look like as an adult. At that age my only view of what I needed to be as a grown up was that I wanted to be a mother. My image of what I needed to look like came about when I was a teenager. I tried to camouflage my large chest,and I was most influenced by my love of old movies and old styles. I wanted to look like a  1930's or 40's woman,or even an 1800's woman.

Like Bette Davis...

...or Hedy Lamarr. Way too much upkeep to either of those looks anyway, so that was never going to happen.

Later on in my teens I wanted to look like singer Kate Bush. (But I thought her legs were too skinny,so I wasn't wanting to be that thin.)

  By my early twenties I had developed my own style,which my kids describe, (from photos), as semi goth. I don't think it was anywhere near that. I wore a lot of black,and very long skirts,but my make-up,what there was of it, was decidedly more natural. Nobody I knew of dressed like I did. I just liked it.
Me with a bale of straw,Yorkshire, 1985, at age 23. About 110 pounds. Beret,1930's English riding jacket,my friend's skirt,because mine was in the wash,and those leaky Italian patent leather shoes.

So none of my self image, or what I thought I wanted to look like came from Barbie,or any other doll. I did think I wasn't thin enough though. Where does that come from?!
    I do think it's a positive thing for kids to have dolls they can relate to,or see as positive role models though. It's good that Mattel has recently produced dolls in the Barbie line, of all sizes, shapes,and colours. I think it's great that there are now dolls with prosthesis,and wheelchairs. There was a line of bald dolls representing cancer kids. Mattel has the fairly new Creatable World line,for transgender and non-binary kids,(or just people who like to have options and be creative with their dolls).
  That brings us to the end of this post, and the subject of our next post, which you will hopefully see here soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Virtual Doll Convention 2020

  It's already started, but I thought I'd let you all know about the Virtual Doll Convention going on through March 29th. You can go to the web page HERE. It claims to be a fully interactive Doll and Bear convention. Most of the events are over for Thursday,but tomorrow events include a discussion with Helen Kish,Raggedy Ann stories, a program on Francie, and more. Every day has different events. The convention finishes up on Sunday night. Having Facebook helps, but isn't necessary,as they can email you links to the videos. There does appear to be a charge,but it also says the videos will be uploaded to YouTube if you don't want to participate via Facebook. So,I'm not sure how much it will cost you.
  In case any of you are wondering,Fuzz is feeling better. Hopefully it was just the flu. I hope you're all staying safe in quarantine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Where are those posts?

  I know. I didn't post yesterday. I'm going to short change you today too, because this is about all you're going to get. I have been working on several posts though,which you'll see soon.
  All is not exactly well here. Fuzz has had a fever on and off for the last few days, as well as a sore throat. He seems to be feeling better though. I am paranoid and hey. Fuzz is my kid,so I am worried. The only thing making me feel a little better that this is just a flu, is that I read that with the virus there is a dry cough and no mucus. That's certainly not the case here. Not much of a cough at all, and lots of mucus.
  On a happier note, Debra, over at Dollhouselady's Blog,and her accomplice Mr/ Skellie,have returned to the world of blogging. Welcome back Debra.
  Talk to you again soon.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Daisy Kingdom Rainy Day Wear

  I was recently tagged my a Flickr friend to post a 'Spring coat' picture. What I used wasn't technically a Spring coat,but it sort of fits the bill. Also,I've been wanting to play with it for ages!


 Some of you may have seen Ivy's Daisy Kingdom doll and her wardrobe in the post I did back in November. You can see that HERE. Well, way back when we bought that doll and her clothes, we also bought this raincoat and hat. Ivy ended up with a yellow rain slicker and matching hat, and a pair of red rain boots. I'm not sure if she already had them,or if she got them later. In any case, I loved this raincoat set, and kept it for myself. What an awful mom! It's ok though,because when I took these pictures today Ivy told me this raincoat was UGLY. She hates it. So I feel less guilty now!

  This raincoat set is made by Daisy Kingdom. 

When I got it I didn't have a doll to wear it except maybe my Little Miss No Name. After all these years I have any number of dolls that could wear it. I pulled Maru and Friends Jamie out today because I thought she'd look good in it.
She's posing with my lilac buds.
  She's a little big for it though. Well, her arms are a bit too long for the sleeves.

  The hat is also a little big for her head.

Otherwise it fits her quite well.

She's posing with my poor daffodils. They are trying to bloom, but we had snow again today!

Jamie is wearing her own knee socks and pink boots.

They are faux suede and not made for mud!

There you go! I got another post out! 

It gives you a few minutes of something besides you-know-what to think about. See you again soon!