The curious thing about the modern age is that while we are all better informed than ever about what’s good for us, we find it harder and harder to tear ourselves away from less healthy distractions.

Fanny & Alexander is an Argentine brand that’s trying to redress this imbalance. Founded by mother Delfine Aguilar, the company creates what it calls ‘utterly analogue’ toys; superficially simple but beautifully crafted objects and activity kits that act as a counterpoint to the mass-produced plastic merchandise by which we’re all increasingly surrounded. (And by ‘surrounded’ I really mean ‘assailed’.)

These are toys that refuse to tell the whole story; toys that prompt children instead to discover and invent stories of their own

So there are toy cameras carved from guatambu and incense wood, with soft leather details and wooden lenses that zoom in and retract. There are cross-stitch kits designed to initiate little fingers into the slow and nimble arts. And there are wooden tool sets with saws and hammers so cute and unassuming and innocent you will want to cry.

What’s on offer here isn’t so much the toys themselves as the possibilities that they represent. These are toys that refuse to tell the whole story; toys that prompt children instead to discover and invent stories of their own. These toys encourage activity, curiosity, creativity and imagination – and in doing so, they remind us that the greatest gift of childhood is not innocence but wonder, and the freedom to explore the world (and ourselves) without self-consciousness, shame or doubt, through the art of the pretend. No batteries required.

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