Fairy Wars: Barbie vs. Tinker Bell

Just a quick note on the Barbie Fairytopia series of movies, which we have just recently been watching. (Most recently, just today. PA day from school.) Barbie’s fairy movies are very different from the Disney Tinker Bell brand. In a nutshell:

Pixie Hollow (Tinker Bell): very preschool, everyone’s sweet and lovely (except for one snarky girl), no big villains, no evil plots to foil

Fairytopia (Barbie): characters look and sound like teenagers, default setting for fairies seems to be snide and mocking (“He-LLO!”), ongoing arch-villain with megalomaniac schemes

With the Disney brand comes the deep pockets and big production value, which really comes to the fore in this battle. Pixie Hollow is absolutely gorgeous – fully populated with fairies and critters, and bustling. Fairytopia is beautiful, but in a limited way – generally underpopulated… deserted really, in the two movies we’ve seen. So much for design, but the writing and characterizations are also superior in the Disney product. The Barbie movies rely far too much on teen slang and kind of nasty, gossipy girl relations. They seem to be betting on the premise that little kids want to watch films populated by their older sister and her friends. Odd. The characters too, are quite flat, personality-wise, and they all move like… Barbie dolls. Tinker Bell is a much more nuanced, flawed heroine and her friends are more distinct and fully-rounded characters.

Tink movies are definitely better for younger viewers. The Barbie movies have a more mature world-view and Quest vs. Evil Plot structure.

In conclusion: Barbie’s movies may have come out first, but Tinker Bell kind of kicks Barbie’s pert little behind in this match-up.

Barbie Fairytopia Movies

Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)

Barbie: Mermaidia (2006)

Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)

Barbie Mariposa (2008)

Disney Tinker Bell Movies

Tinker Bell (2008)

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)

The Story of the Snow Children

The Story of the Snow Children

by Sibylle von Olfers

first published in 1905 in Germany

English translation by Polly Lawson – Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2005

20 pp.

Ages: 2 +

Interests: fairies, princesses, snow, winter, parties, magic

Also by this author: The Story of the Root Children (1906), Princess in the Forest (1909), and The Story of the Wind Children (1910)

You might also like: Peter in Blueberry Land (1901) – very similar in story, style and look

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April and Esme, Tooth Fairies

April and Esme, Tooth Fairies

by Bob Graham

Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2010

31 pp.

Age: 3 +

Interests: fairies, tooth fairies, siblings

Also by this author: Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child

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Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep

Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep

by Eleanor Farjeon

illustrated by Charlotte Voake

first published in 1937

this edition: Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1997

61 pp.

Age: 5 +

Interests: fairies, magic, skipping

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The Magic Fishbone

subtitle: “A Holiday Romance from the Pen of Miss Alice Rainbird, Aged Seven”

by Charles Dickens

originally published 1868

this edition: illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, Vanguard Press, New York, 1953

36 pp.

Age: 4 +

Interests: magic, fairies, princesses

Also by this author (for children): The Cricket on the Hearth, A Christmas Carol

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)


Rated: G

Length: 75 min.

Age: 4 and up.                      Commonsense Media sez: iffy for ages 4/5

Scary Factor: no real danger until the climax, when Maleficent turns into a dragon to battle the prince (scene is relatively brief)

Intense Scenes: far more suspense and chills than outright scares – Maleficent is wonderfully threatening; scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle is eerie and enthralling.

Bad Behaviour: Boozing – the two kings drink endless toasts to each other and a minstrel gets quietly sloshed under the table.

Language:  “fools! idiots! imbeciles!” barked by Maleficent at her underlings; she also mentions the powers of “hell”

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, knights, castles, dragons, magic, fairies

Next: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Thumbelina

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Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child

GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNER – 2002

Bob Graham, author and illustrator

Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2002

29pp

Ages: 3+

Interests: fairies, city life, family, magic

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Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)


Rated: G
Length: 81 min
Age: 4 +   (because of rats; might be okay for 3)         Commonsense Media sez:  4+

Scary factor: escaping from red-eyed rats is quite scary, but action-packed and moves along quickly. Encounter with trolls is quickly defused as trolls are more goofy than scary, and easily dodged.

Intense scenes: More troublesome for the very young might be moments of high despair for Tinker Bell, and scenes in which she loses her temper with her friends, however she apologies and learns from all trials.

Warning: Excessive Merchandise Alert!

Interests: fairies, magic, nature, adventure, travel, treasure
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Tinker Bell (2008)

Rated: G
Length: 78 min
Age: 3+               Commonsense Media sez: 4+

Scary factor: Biggest scare is a brief scene with a hawk; the fairies flee in terror and hide. The hawk has Vidia cornered briefly but she escapes. Two stampedes of Sprinting Thistles are momentarily alarming, but the plants are more of a nuisance than a directed threat.

Intense scenes: the aftermath of the second thistle stampede, in which Tinker Bell has inadvertently destroyed all the work of the entire fairy community, could be emotionally intense for some – along the lines of “she’s in so much trouble!!!”, but things are soon set right again.

Another brief gag: a squirrel is hit in the head with a nut, and bursts into tears. Done for humour, and happens very quickly.

Warning: Excessive Merchandise Alert!

Interests: fairies, magic, nature, seasons, spring

Go to review for 2nd Tinker Bell film – Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)

Black & White
Rating: USA: Approved
Length: 133 min – other versions: 117 min (edited version), 142 min (with overture and exit music)
Age: suitable for 3, but for plot comprehension 4 or 5

Scary Factor: Oberon in black and his bat-people minions are a little unnerving, particularly when they seem to be rounding up the beautiful fairies at the end. Other than that there’s nothing violent or threatening. Viewers may wonder about the small orphan boy fought over by Oberon and Titania, but the toddler keeps smiling whether he’s with one or the other and seems to be treated well, so it shouldn’t be an issue. (He weeps only when Titania ignores him during her fascination with Bottom.)

Interests: magic, fairies, Shakespeare, old movies

Next: MOVIE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) is more for 12+ crowd (PG-13); BOOKS: traditional fairy tales, Peter Pan, Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb, Shakespeare’s The Tempest (in a picture book version)

Preparation: picture books or other abridged versions of the Midsummer Night’s Dream story – helpful to know the plot first!

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.