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Least Prefab Toy Selection 

The Ark

It can be a bit disconcerting to find the toys from your own childhood outfitted with blinking lights and electronic sounds -- what was wrong with that yellow Fisher-Price bus with the little people who bobbed up and down? Now they sing songs and lights blink when the bus moves, and somehow it just doesn't seem the same. Finding some of those simple pleasures of childhood -- wooden blocks, quality dollhouses, dress-up clothes, great kites, toys that don't entertain themselves -- is a challenge at big-box stores. The Ark comes as a soothing alternative for those searching for something more familiar. An entire rack is devoted to musical instruments sized for smaller hands and mouths. Another wall is covered with an array of wooden toys. Upstairs, there's a huge variety of art kits and games. And best of all, few -- perhaps even none -- of the Ark's toys require an endless supply of AA batteries to keep the kids entertained.

Readers' Pick:
Mr. Mopps' Children's Books and Toys
1405 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, 510-525-9633

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