Smart parents know that playtime is all about indoctrination. Are you going to train your kids to care about Barbie’s hair or to do something useful? This wooden lawnmower from Papa Don’s Toys, made in Walton, will teach your tot that repeatedly pushing around a rattling mower is fun. Then, once he or she has reached sufficient size, you swap it out for the real deal and never have to mow your own lawn again. Genius! $34. Babyworks, 2537A NW Upshur St., 224-4696, babyworks.com.
When I was a tyke, there was little I loved more than my big, yellow Tonka dump truck. I moved mountains with that thing, and I’d give one to any child in a heartbeat. But these days the trucks I loved are made in China from chintzy plastic, and lack the general air of coolness of the good old days. Enter Green Toys, with a line of vehicles with all the cool chunky design of classic Tonka, made in California from recycled milk jugs. This recycling truck also covertly teaches responsible waste management. Vrooom! $25. Grasshopper, 1816 NE Alberta St., 335-3131, grasshopperstore.com.
“Would you stop playing with your food already? Every time you fling mashed potato across the room, I have to steam starch out of the carpet. Do you think that’s fun? Look, I bought you some cute play vegetables made from recycled felt by Portlander Stephanie Weber. I don’t care if you fling these around willy-nilly, so just go ahead and—wait, don’t eat that! Eat the real food! What’s wrong with you?!” $18. Trillium Artisans, 9119 SE Foster Road, 775-7993, picklethings.etsy.com.
Portlander Dale Basye’s first novel, Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go sent siblings Marlo and Milton to a sort of training-wheel inferno ruled over by a horrible headmistress named Bea “Elsa” Bubb. You get the idea. The sequel, Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck, came out this fall, with Milton escaped and Marlo sent even deeper into the abyss. And a lot more puns. $16.99. A Children’s Place, 4807 NE Fremont St., 284-8294, achildrensplacebookstore.com.
That seemingly innocent and bumbling toddler? Crazy like a fox. She knows what she wants, and what she wants she’ll get. The world must be warned of her cunning. This silkscreened fox T-shirt, the latest design from Portland’s Little Lark, should do the trick. $30. Alittlelark.com