Who Inspired That Cartoon?

We know our kids’ favorite cartoon or storybook characters. We can list their names, tell their jokes, possibly even remember what they are usually wearing. But, do we know what inspired these lovable characters? Some of us might assume that the illustrated object of our child’s affection was created in a darkened computer studio somewhere in Hollywood, where children are simply test subjects and demographics. This might be the case for some children’s media, but a little research shows that many of today most loved characters were created for or inspired by real boys and girls just like our own.

Some examples:

Olivia the Pig- This rambunctious piglet makes mischief and fun everywhere she goes. Her creator, Ian Falconer, created the character as a gift for his brand new baby niece. The book was eventually picked up by a publishing house that had been impressed by Falconer’s work with The New Yorker. Today, Olivia is the star of various picture books, board books and gifts. Olivia toys can be purchased at many toy stores across the nation and she has her own animated television show on Nick Jr.!

Charlie and Lola- This is yet another television show adapted from popular children’s picture books. The characters are Charlie and his younger sister, Lola. Much of the stories surround the duo’s relationship and the everyday scenarios that most brothers and sisters encounter. The author, Lauren Child, was inspired to create the series of books after meeting a young, inquisitive stranger on a train in Denmark!

Thomas the Train- Although not based on an actual child, this very popular character comes from a series of train stories told, originally, from father to son at bedtime. Those stories—published as The Railway Series books—were developed into a British television show that eventually made its way through various adaptations and into the Thomas and Friends series that we all know and love.

 

It appears that inspiration is all around us! It might only be a matter of time until your lovable child becomes the next star of his own television series!

Beach Time!

Summer is almost here, which means that many of us are gearing up for an annual family vacation! If this is your child’s first trip to the beach, or if your trip will be a particularly long one, you may want to consider bringing along his or her favorite friends:

Before packing for your trip, read Olivia Learns to Surf together to get your child in the mood for a vacation and then let your little girl try on her Disney Princess swimsuit before she packs it in her suitcase. Don’t forget a hat to block those harmful sun rays! If your child is a fan of Yo Gabba Gabba! you can have this Brobee bucket hat personalized!

You can purchase beach towels featuring all your child’s favorite characters—Strawberry Shortcake, Super Why!, Ben 10, and Caillou. (Those can all be personalized, as well!) Before you leave, pack a good beach bucket like this Thomas & Friends tin pail. And then put together a healthy lunch and grab your child’s Clifford lunch box to bring it along.

To keep it all together, toss it in a big, linen bag like The Wiggles Summer Fun Tote Bag and head out the door! Now, on a family vacation, a day at the beach, or a sunny day in the park, your child can have all their favorite friends along for the adventure.

Olivia: A recipe for success

Since cupcakes are Olivia’s favorite food, why not bake some for a party?  I recently had the opportunity to bake some cupcakes to celebrate my niece’s birthday.  She is a huge fan of Olivia the Pig.  I went looking for good recipes that I might find, especially cupcakes with an Olivia the Pig theme.

I did find one, which I would love to share!  Here is a recipe for Olivia the pig cupcakes, courtesy of Nick Jr.’s website:

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 bottle (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups pink candy melts (like Wilton® Candy Melts® available at party supplies stores)
1 can (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
Red food coloring
1 tube chocolate or brown decorating frosting

Muffin pans (for 24 cupcakes)
24 cupcake liners
Olivia Cupcake Templates
Wax paper

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Step 2
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and the sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until well blended.

Step 3
Combine the buttermilk and the food coloring in a measuring cup. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Combine the vinegar and the baking soda in a small bowl and immediately stir into the batter until well blended.

Step 4
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Step 5
Meanwhile, melt the pink candy melts in a medium bowl until smooth, about 45 seconds. Spoon into a resealable bag. Place the ears and nose template on a sheet pan topped with a piece of wax paper. Snip a very small corner from the bag with the melted chocolate. Pipe outlines of the ears and nose and fill in with more chocolate. Repeat to make 24 sets of ears and 24 noses. Reheat the chocolate if it becomes too thick. Place the chocolate pieces into the refrigerator until set, about 5 minutes.

Step 6
Tint the vanilla frosting a light pink with the red food coloring. Remove 1/3 cup of the frosting and tint it a darker pink with the red food coloring. Spoon the darker pink frosting into a resealable bag. Spread the light pink frosting on top of the cupcakes and make smooth.

Step 7
Peel the chocolate pieces from the wax paper and insert the ears into the sides of the cupcakes. Add the nose in the center. Snip a very small corner from the bag with the darker pink frosting and pipe outlines on the ears and the nose and pipe the mouth on top of the cupcakes. Pipe the chocolate frosting for the nostrils and the eyes.

I have to say that every last cupcake was eaten at the party. The kids loved them as did the parents.  I had also bought this book for my niece, which she loved!  I can’t wait until the next party.  Keep reading my posts in the future for more options on how to plan a party.  For more options on what to choose for a themed party, check out our kids party supplies. For more birthday gift ideas, check out Olivia toys.

 

Olivia Strikes Again

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the peppiness of Olivia the Pig.  Olivia was originally created by Ian Falconer, who studied art at many prestigious universities such as New York University, the Otis Institute, and Parsons School of Design. He also helped to design sets and costumes with for stage productions in various metropolitan areas with fellow artist David Hockney.

Coincidentally, Ian had a baby niece named Olivia. His first book about Olivia the Pig was intended as a present for his niece.  When Anne Schwartz from Simon & Schuster noticed Ian’s artwork in the New Yorker, she contacted him about creating a children’s book.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Olivia herself loves art and music.  She even created a one person band by banging around on pots, pans, and various items found around the house. If you are looking for something to do during the holidays, I have provided a link to which you all can have a little bit of musical fun yourselves! The link provides access to a musical game complete with printable stars. Print out the stars, and see for yourself how much fun you and your little one(s) may have!

For even more fun and exciting times, we have toys for the budding little princess at your house. We have tea sets so she can invite her friends over and have a tea party.  For babies we have Olivia Lovies, as well as an Olivia Plush Doll, which all ages will truly enjoy.

Lovely Lovies

So Halloween is over and by now you’ve packed up all of your costumes for next year, or to pass along or give to Goodwill.  Thanksgiving is coming up, and then Christmas-the holiday season is upon us! In the meantime, it might be a good idea to start thinking about what gifts you will purchase for the holidays. Perhaps a nephew or niece of yours is going to be born soon, and you would like to get the perfect gift for him or her.  We all know that every baby needs the basics like a bottle, a crib, diapers, and baby food.  There is one gift that is very special and goes above and beyond the basics-a baby blanket or lovie.

Baby blankets have been around for hundreds of years. They offer security to babies when they go to sleep at night, when Mom or Dad cannot watch over them at night.  Lovies have also become very special in recent years.  Lovies are soft, huggable plush toys that can accentuate or replace a baby blanket.  Lovies are also a favorite among children. Children can take their lovies to different places and always carry something familiar with them.  Whether you are going to the mall or simply to a friend’s house, the child will have a sense of security about them.

Ty’s Toy Box can help to fill that need. Ty’s Toy Box offers a variety of lovies, with the chance to have each lovie customized with the baby or child’s name.  We offer free personalized embroidery for up to 9 characters.  Can you think of a more special way to honor your little one?

Perhaps your baby or child already has a blanket. If so, it’s not a bad idea to have more than one blanket or lovie, especially if the child’s first lovie becomes lost or needs to be washed.  If they love Yo Gabba Gabba or Olivia the Pig, this is even better! Ty’s Toy Box  offers a variety of lovies, with each character from Yo Gabba Gabba, as well as Olivia the Pig. The possibilities are endless, see for yourself.  We also offers cuddle pillows, plush toys, and Grab ‘N’ Sing toys that actually sing. Consider us a one stop shop for all your child’s bedtime needs. Purchase a lovie.  You will see the difference when your child rests more…peacefully.