By peoplestaff225
Updated October 29, 2008 06:00 AM

As a Latina mother to two young daughters, I am always searching for toys and games that can help increase their self-esteem. The Only Hearts Club is a line of dolls that look and dress like real girls. The dolls ($15.99), who come from different ethnic background, are part of the same community and are all close friends. My 5 year old, who does not typically like to play with dolls, really enjoyed playing with hers.

These 9" dolls are soft and their bodies can be moved to different poses. They also have nice lifelike hair, bright glass eyes and come with a tiny stuffed animal. Their clothes are cute and age-appropriate- no belly tops on these dolls! You can also purchase additional outfits ($11), furniture ($6-22) and play sets ($20-60).

All the dolls have a special interest or cause. For example, Karina Grace, who is Caucasian-American, loves to play guitar, sing and dance ballet (and her pet is named DotCom!). Anna Sophia, who is Hispanic-American, enjoys cooking and baking. You can also purchase books ($4) that tie into each doll’s interest. Karina Grace’s book, Dancing Dilemma, deals with her problem- she’s the best dancer in the school; will she allow it to affect her friendships? In Anna Sophia’s book, Two Smart Cookies, the baker’s pie is ruined hours before a bake-off; can she whip up Grandma’s secret recipe in time?

The company also produces Only Hearts Pets. These are also really cute, tiny, stuffed animals ($3.50). Each pet has Velcro on its paws, so you can connect them together to make bracelets, necklaces, hair clips and finger puppets. My 3 year old spent nearly an hour doing that! The best part is that they also come with a plastic clip, so you can hook the pets to your child’s backpack. My 5 year old didn’t spend much time playing with these pets as my 3 year old, but she loved clipping them on to her backpack with my help. The plastic clips could use some improvement though — after a day of school, one of the clips came apart. Thankfully, my daughter was able to salvage the pet!

— Judie