Most Montessori play-toys are made in India and then exported across the world. The low-quality stuff stays here," says Vinay Diddee, owner of Little Latitude, talking about the country’s toy industry. Eager to make and sell better-designed and quality toys, Diddee’s company started making wooden toys six months ago.

He began with a range made from rubber wood; it was all sold out within a couple of months of release. “But rubber wood is often treated with chemical. Though my toys are all coated with safe vegetable dyes and shellac, I decided I have to find something new," he says. To make his new range of toys completely child-friendly, he uses beechwood that is easily available in the country and polishes it with a home-made wax. The wax made from bees wax, jojoba oil and ylang ylang oil is so safe that his children use it as lip balm.

At the moment the toy range includes a car, bus, tractor, trailer and camera. Yes, a toy camera, complete with a strap made from organic cotton so your little photographer can sling the precious equipment around the neck. Parts of the toys have a coloured lacquer coating that he gets done at the Maya Organic, Channapatna, Karnataka, workshop. He plans to design more toys this year.

Little Latitude started in 2010 when Diddee, a full-time independent textile designer, decided to publish books, the kind that his own children, now aged 8 and 5, would want to read. He came up with story concepts and then worked with writers and illustrators to create books that read in verse and have descriptive illustrations. The first set of three books, titled The World of Anahi And Vir after his two children, are written by Kalpana Subramanian and illustrated by Prashant Miranda. “If a child picks up a book he/she could read it or just look at the pictures. Every time they pick it up they should see something new," says Diddee.

This year he plans to release at least eight new books, and an apparel range for children with vintage images like the Supermarine Spitfire and the original Jeep, because it’s too easy to go with cutesy images for children’s clothing, he says. Diddee also plans to launch a range of bed linen for children. Little Latitude toys are already available on their site, but will be in stores across India in around a week. They also retail from 18 stores in the US.

Log on to www.littlelatitude.com to shop online or find the store closest to you.

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