Olsson's Book Bits

by Greta Olsson

Dream Doll
Autobiography of Ruth Handler
227 Pages, Hard Cover
Copyright 1994
Long Meadow Press
ISBN: O-681-OO763-X

I can highly recommend this book because of Ruth Handler's great strength, her adventures and fascinating life. She created the Barbie doll and co-founded Mattel Inc. She is the mother of Barbara and Kenneth, and the grandmother of five.

The dolls were named after her own children, a fact that Barbara disliked intensely. She was treated by the public as though she were a movie star - and all because of a doll!

Ruth's family disliked her choice of husband, Izzy. They were long time sweethearts, but Ruth's family opposed a marriage to him. Isadore Elliot Handler was your almost starving artist type. They broke up several times, but finally Ruth realized that he was the man for her. She asked only that he use the name Elliot, and not "Izzy" which she disliked. He agreed readily. At the writing of this book (with Jacqueline Shannan), they had been married more than 60 years.

Their toy company rose to international heights because of his enormous designer talents and her business acumen. Ruth had the idea of a doll with breasts five years before she could convince her all male team to try her idea. Barbie would give children a dream of what their future might hold for them. They didn't have to choose to be mommies only. Then in 197O Ruth got breast cancer, and had to have a mastectomy. She found any available prosthesis uncomfortable and not good appearance wise. She created a better product called "Nearly Me," and turned to that project when she and Elliot were edged out of their own company, Mattel. Their foreign travel and experiences at toy shows, and Elliot's genius in knowing what would sell and what would not, make for an enjoyable and informative read.

Playing for Pizza
by John Grisham
4O4 pages, Hard cover, large print
published by Doubleday
Copyright 2OO7
ISBN 978-O-7394-8789-1

For those of you who love football and all things Italian, this book is for you. The Broker, which was set in Bologna, gave the reader a good story and several lessons in learning the Italian language. Playing For Pizza is about a down and out NFL player who is kicked off his team and has much trouble getting on another one.

His agent finally offers him a chance for American football played on an Italian team located in Parma. They are called the Parma Panthers, comprised of a rough and tumble group of men who play because they love the sport and the pizza dinner following an event. They have one or two men who are reasonably good, and are ecstatic at the thought of having an NFL player help them to victory in their own NFL-like competition. They have never won.

John Grisham obviously loves Italy, and this time takes you on a tour of Parma and a good romp with the boys - the majority of the scenes being light-hearted and good fun, In researching his book, The Broker, Grisham actually came across American football in Italy. He says, "and as I dug deeper a novel came together. The research was tough - food, wine, opera, football, Italian culture - but someone had to do it."

Recommended for fun reading.

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