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Learning toys that fail

Not all teaching toys pan out: Some are boring; others fail to make a point. But these dangerously failing toys cross the line from "educational" to "injurious."

By Hank Pellissier

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Failing toy: Wooden animal drum

What it's supposed to teach: Music and percussive rhythm

Why it fails: This $7 hexagonal horror from China depicts idiotically grinning creatures on its six vertical sides. Yes, the paint color is nice and bright, but the pigment chemicals are foolishly toxic: They have illegal amounts of lead. Tykes licking the pink butterfly – in search of a multisensory learning experience — would slobber an excess of the poisonous 82nd element into their innocent systems. Licking lead leads to brain-stunting, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, teen violence, elderly mental dysfunction, and numerous other neurological and anatomical atrocities. You may’ve been inspired to buy this toy after reading the Swedish study "Drummers more intelligent." Alas, musicians beating this drum might have had their music muffled if they slurped lead between boom sha-ka booms.

Advice: Return this mentally-crippling musical monstrosity immediately to Cost Plus World Market, and spend the refund bucks on supplements of vitamin C , zinc, iron, or calcium, which can potentially counteract lead effects.


Hank Pellissier is a freelance writer whose fiction and essays have been been widely published and anthologized. A former columnist for Salon and SF Gate, he is a regular contributor to h+ Magazine.

Comments from readers

"Information about dangerous toys is helpful, but should be labeled as such in the article's title. Information about the recall of these items is mostly missing. Finally, more useful and more in keeping with the title would have been information on toys that fail to deliver on their promise to educate, like the Baby Einstein brand. "
"All the finest advice on health comes, of course, from anonymously-quoted bloggers... Please, folks, pay for a proper editor with journalism skills. "