Another review is in! This review by Aaron C. Thomas just appeared in the journal Cultural Studies. The review summarizes the book extensively and accurately, and I especially appreciated the way in which Thomas picked up on how the book claims girls and girlhood as central to US racial formation. Here's the closing paragraph of the three-page review:
Bernstein's book will be of keen interest to those working to study either childhood or toy culture in the United States, as well as to scholars of critical race theory or postcolonial studies. The author's deep understanding of nineteenth-century childhood play and the black-and-white imagery of minstrelsy in the United States allows her to describe in a clear and meaningful way the long-term effects of racialised nineteenth-century culture on our present day. Further, because Bernstein presses on Michel de Certeau's notion of tactics, or the ways in which consumers put the objects in their lives to productive use, Racial Innocence outlines new methodologies with which to analyse the seemingly inert objects that are marketed to consumers across the globe. Perhaps even more importantly, Bernstein's theory of the scriptive thing asks us to see children as active participants in culture, and, in fact, as expert agents of the culture of childhood into which they have been interpellated. In this way, Bernstein is able not only to describe the effects of nineteenth-century racialisation on twenty-first century US culture, but also to illuminate the racialised residues of our own childhoods in our everyday adult lives.