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LI kids visit Yottoy, a toy company that brings books to life

From left, Yottoy's Kate Clark, with Mackayla Palladino,

From left, Yottoy's Kate Clark, with Mackayla Palladino, Marquis Johnson, Keira Keenan, Katelyn Perillo and the company's Peter Doodeheefver. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We were invited to visit Yottoy, a toy company in Manhattan, and we had so much fun while we were there. We met Kate Clark, the founder and president, and Peter Doodeheefver, vice president and creative director.

During our visit we learned that the idea of the company was to bring families together. Nearly all of the toys have a book to go with them, but there were some toys, including Girl Scout Friendship Dolls and a few others, that do not have companion books. Yottoy produces book-based toys, based on classics such as Little Golden Books, and books by contemporary writers such as Mo Willems.

These are toys you and your grandparents can play with together. Many of the toys you might already know. These toys include Paddington Bear, Madeline and the Stinky Cheese Man. They told us they are working on creating a Walt Disney line of toys.

Peter, who designs the toys, took us around his shop to see how this process takes place. He showed us the felt and cotton in all different colors that are used to sew a toy. We visited the sewing station where they were busy sewing one of the toys they were trying to create.

After that we saw another station where a woman was painting little pieces of a Paddington Bear toy set. Here we learned how they use clay and molds to create parts of the toys. The molds are painted to look like the pieces the characters use in their stories.

Throughout the visit we saw different types of materials, and items such as ribbon, clay, paint, eyes, noses, string, cotton, feathers and more that can be used to make the toys look just like they do in the books. After we learned about how the different people create the toy, we were introduced to another person who designs the inside and outside of the boxes that the toys are put in. He looks at the book and takes ideas from the colors, shapes and images that should be included in and on the box to make sure that your perfect toy has the perfect box to live in.

Throughout the toy-creating process, the creators keep in touch with the authors of the stories to make sure the toy perfectly matches the image the author had in their book. This means it can take multiple tries to make a finished product. Sometimes changing the color of the fabric or the length of the arms can make the toy more accurate. It could be something as simple as making the hole in a doughnut just a little bit bigger or making the eyes look smaller.

They also take care that the toys are safe by making sure that the eyes can’t be pulled out by a baby, pieces won’t fall off and strings can’t be pulled. Once their toy is created and they think it is safe, they send it to a lab for a safety test. At the lab, they make sure nothing is loose and the parts are put together perfectly. If the toy is a stuffed animal, they make sure the stuffing is clean. After the lab says everything is good, the toy is ready to go to the buyer to be created in mass production for the public.

The owners of Yottoy were very nice. They seem like they really love what they do and enjoyed inviting us in to learn about them and their company. You can see more about this amazing company by visiting them online at yottoy.com.

Carol Chisan and Donna Haakonson’s fourth-grade class, William Floyd Elementary School, Shirley

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