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Tampa Bay Times - July 21, 2006

Abuelita Rosa and Abuelito Pancho

Sing along with Baby Abuelita
by Dalia Wheatt dwheatt@tampabay.com

What was that old song Grandma used to sing? Three Miami women want to make sure you never forget.

In May 2005, the working moms debuted Baby Abuelita, a line of dolls that sing traditional Hispanic songs and nursery rhymes as a way of preserving the tunes for future generations.

Abuelita is Spanish for grandmother, and the eponymous doll is Abuelita Rosa, a white-haired lady in a pink gingham daisy housedress. She sings classics such as Arroz con Leche (Rice with Milk) and Durmete Mi Nia (Go to Sleep, My Child). Her better half is Abuelito Pancho, who dons a yellow guayabera and whose repertoire includes the popular children's refrain Los Pollitos Dicen (The Little Chicks Say). Finally there's Baby Andrea, with five songs including El Patio de Mi Casa (My House's Patio).

Baby Abuelita originally targeted ages 2 to 6, but the appeal quickly spread.

"What we have found is that older adults - the parents, the grandparents - literally fight with their children over which doll to get. They want it for themselves because they're the ones that really connect up emotionally with the music," said co-founder Carol Fenster.

Fenster grew up in a Yiddish-speaking household but said that, as a first-generation American, she relates to Baby Abuelita Productions' goal of cultural preservation. Her business partners are Hispanic.

"Particularly in Hispanic culture, grandparents really are held in very high esteem, and so our thought was to have that kind of representation because people could relate to it," Fenster said. "As a matter of fact, even people who don't speak Spanish - children in particular and older adults - really get the concept."

Since premiering last year, Baby Abuelita Productions has sold close to 20,000 dolls, Fenster said. The products are available at Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart and Target stores in South Florida. A bilingual book, Sing Along with Abuelita Rosa, is also in the works.