I have an affinity for gift shops like Hallmark due to my childhood spent in airports traveling with my parents, sitting in layovers and waiting for relatives to arrive. There was a Hallmark within walking distance of our last apartment, and when the weather was nice I would sometimes take Drake for a walk when he was little. One time while wandering around the store, I came across Jingle -- an interactive story dog. When you read the story out loud, certain phrases will get the stuffed toy to react to the words; in Jingle's case, he barks, whimpers, howls, and sings.
Drake was six months old at the time of his first Christmas, and I knew it would be a great gift for him. Since Drake was so little, most toys didn't interest him yet, but like most babies, he loved being read to and listening to our voices. I thought it would be a fun way to make story time for the family more interesting if we read to Drake and then Jingle came to life. Almost 3 years later, Jingle is still very much loved by Drake.
I recently purchased Jingle as a gift for a family friend who had three sons of various ages. I think he is a great gift for multiple aged children, as the older ones can read to the younger ones and they can all interact and play with Jingle. And when Drake gets a little older, Jingle might be an incentive for reading as he will respond when Drake reads correctly.
Hallmark has since expanded their line of interactive story buddies, as well as added new books to the Jingle collection, which we have been buying and reading to Drake. We added Nugget to the family a short time after Jingle, and both of them are still much loved and enjoyed by Drake.