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These little girls do more than sit around looking cute: Squeeze their hands and they talk in French, Spanish, Italian, or Chinese. Language Littles won’t take the place of classes, but they’re certainly an ingenious introduction to another language for kids. Though their vocabulary is limited to the basics – days of the week, “How are you?,” “What’s your name?,” and such – the accents are correct: Geri Grobman, their clever creator, tested children’s voices to be sure to get the sound just right. The dolls are soft and cuddly and their clothing is removable and washable, so youngsters get to learn and play at the same time (around $38).
E.A.T. GIFTS/1062 Madison Avenue, near 80th Street/212-861-2544
MARY ARNOLD TOYS/1010 Lexington Avenue, near 72nd Street/212-744-8510
SERENDIPITY 3/225 East 60th Street/212-838-3531
There’ll Always Be an English Gift Shop
Annoushka Ducas was a London fishmonger who gave up Billingsgate in 1990 for jewelry-making when her fish-shaped Christmas cuff links created quite a stir. Ducas and her partner (and husband), John Ayton, have since opened seven London shops, and now one on Madison Avenue. True to its genesis, the New York outpost is devoted to gifts. There’s the expected (sterling-silver frames, ice buckets, and cuff links), the unexpected (a sterling-silver-and-fresh-water-pearl “bamboo” bracelet), and the downright quirky (silver-plate “roulette” pocket watches and sterling-silver wheelbarrow salt dishes and pig mustard troughs). Though utterly Brit, this spiffy shop is a trove for city tchotchke lovers (from $35 for a silver-plate business-card holder to $200 for the bamboo bracelet to $780 for a small sterling-silver cow creamer to $2,300 for an 18-karat-gold bangle bracelet).
LINKS OF LONDON/535 Madison Avenue, near 54th Street/212-588-1177
This giant bug won’t freak you out if you find it sitting on your table: The copper, red, and burnished-gold tole ladybug is a votive light. It’s handmade in the Far East and has a retractable hook for hanging it on the wall, a trap door in its belly for placing the tea candle with ease, and holes in the wings so the light shines through, mimicking a beetle’s spots. No wimp, this insect is ten inches long and seven inches wide ($45).
LEXINGTON GARDENS/1011 Lexington Avenue, near 72nd Street/212-861-4390
In the sixties, the name Birdwell was synonymous with surfing. Though the craze has long since peaked, the family-run company is still turning out Beach Britches. This year, it’s added a Birdwell tote: Same colors, same sturdy nylon, but the Velcro now seals an inner pocket, not a body part. Unlike the suits, the tote is sure to be a keeper, since it will always be the right size ($28).
STEVEN ALAN/60 Wooster Street/212-334-6354
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