A day too late, I learn about the existence of Kinder Eggs (via My Paper Crane) - hollow chocolate eggs that are filled with cute little toys. I also found that you can order the toys by themselves (chocolate removed), and they come in a cute little egg-like capsule. We are trying to avoid candy as much as possible in our house, so the Kinder toys will certainly be making an appearance next year.
I also discovered two children's book illustrators who are new to me. Alain Gree is a French illustrator and author who published primarily in the 1960s and '70s. His work is really gorgeous and is in some ways stylistically similar to another of my favorites, Mary Blair. Here are some of the Gree book covers:
Russian author Eduard Uspensky and illustrator Leonid Shvartsman created the adorable Cheburashka, who later became a stop motion animation film star. Apparently, there is quite a revival of Cheburashka going on in Japan right now, as the character appeals to the kawaii culture. A search on Amazon Japan yields a couple of books and a dvd:
Those of you who pay attention to such things already know that Chebarushka was the official mascot of the 2004 Russian summer Olympic team. Now you can purchase all kinds of Chebarushka items as a result of the Japanese fascination with the little fuzzy guy.