Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Children's Book Titles, Toys for Christmas in light of the recalls

My Mothers & More group had a wonderful speaker last night from a local children's book and toy store (4KidsBooks.) We have her come every year and give us reccomendations. These are the titles she reccomended for this Fall/Winter season:

Flotsam by David Wiesner
Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Sciezka
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer
The Great, Great, Great Chicken War by David de la Garza The author was five years old when he wrote this story. His parents developed it and had it published!
Mixed Up Fairy Tales by Hilary Robinson
Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll
Toy Boat by Randall de Seve
The Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems
Now, I've used Amazon to link all of these books because I wanted you to be able to see the covers and read the descriptions, but please try to find the titles at an independent books seller if your town or city has one!!

Which leads me to the next point she made regarding making toy purchases this Christmas season in light of the China recall fiasco! First some interesting statistics: 85 million toys are made in China annually, 93% of the toys sold in the United States are made in China! That is overwhelming to me!!

Anyway, the tips she gave our group are:

**Buy from an independent retailer who actually meets face to face with the manufacturer's reps. The owners and managers in the independent stores are much more likely to have an in depth knowledge of how a particular toy was made and where it came from. They are also an excellent source of recommendations!!

**Buy imagination powered, age-appropriate toys! Generally speaking if you do this you will avoid many safety hazards regardless of where the toy is manufactured.

**Avoid private label! For example, the big box sets that so many retailers sell at this time of year. Her reasoning for this is that most of the private lable stuff is made in factories that make a random assortment of goods. One day the factory may be producing lawn chairs and the next an electric train set. Generally speaking the major manufacturers have factories dedicated to the production of toys and, therefore have better oversight.

**Do some research on different vendors and know who you are dealing with. Some that I really like are Haba, Playmobil, Ravensburger and Schleich and Holztiger. Some great online resources include Rosie Hippo's, Magic Cabin, HearthSong, Chinaberry and Nova Natural. I'm also very fond of Barefoot Books.

One final thing I wanted to add is that while many of the vendors I've referenced sell at a higher price point than the Ma**els and F*sher Pr*ces of this world. They are well worth every penny! The toys are much more likely to encourage imaginative play which means they also live up to the child's expectations. They last longer, both in terms of staying in one piece and in terms of engaging a child for an extended period of time.

Enjoy shopping for all the little ones on your list this year!

1 comment:

Mrs. Pivec said...

Again, Marianna, our similarities are too funny. I think we have toys from each of the companies you listed and I get - or used to get - all the catalogs you linked to, except Barefoot Books (which I shall be paying a visit to right after this comment!).

I didn't know about Jewel closing her blog. I hadn't been by in a little while, but when I did try just today I got a message that I needed a special password, so I figured she had at least made some changes. Do you know why she stopped? Just the busyness of her life - with the impending move and everything is what I hope. I hope no one said anything unkind.


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