November 22 2009
When my eldest daughter was seven she decided on a dolls’ house for Christmas. I went into Hamleys, where a Swedish-made wooden house and a respectable amount of furniture hit £84 – a not inconsiderable sum in the mid-1980s. I mention this because this electronic dolls’ house by Learning Curve comes in at proportionately less. It is, of course, made of finest plastic in the most hideously vivid colours, but if I learned one thing from decades of child rearing, it’s that the last thing any child wants is (a) wood, and (b) taste.
The Mrs Goodbee Interactive Dollhouse is light and portable, has 12 rooms and is 60cm tall. And interactive it is, and will, I suspect, delight most small female people. Press the doorbell and Mrs Goodbee – a pair of pink, light-up lips and eyes that double as upstairs windows – says, “Come right in and explore, a happy smile lights up our door.” Place the plastic baby in the plastic cradle and Mrs Goodbee sings “Rock-a-bye baby…” The fridge talks. The loo makes flushing noises. Place a doll in front of the sink and Mrs Interfering Bloody Goodbee says, “You washed your hands. Good job.” Place a pet in the pet bed and she says, “Puppy loves you.”
It incorporates over 400 activities, words and sounds, some via an associated website. The “Good Deeds Garden”, which can be decorated with stickers every time your tiddler does a real-world good deed, is endorsed by an educational psychologist. In fact, the dolls’ house is apparently designed to “encourage children to display positive social behaviours such as caring, sharing and preparing for real life responsibilities”. And you thought it was just a toy.