Garden Guardian by Polished Play

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Garden Guardian by Polished Play App Poster Image
Personalized ebook features butterflies, fairies, and you!

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can work on their word recognition and reading as they follow along with the story. They can also learn more about the butterfly life cycle and practice identifying and showing emotions via facial expressions. 

Ease of Play

Younger kids may need some help taking pictures and adjusting them, but the rest of the controls will be familiar. The text is read aloud, so kids don't need to be able to read.

Violence & Scariness

One scene involves fending off aphids by moving a bug army general on the screen so he can punch them. 

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Garden Guardian by Polished Play is an interactive ebook that puts kids in the story. The tale is a mostly benign one about a fairy who rescues a caterpillar egg, but it does have a plotline where the fairy recruits an army to fend off attacking aphids. In one scene, kids move their general around the screen so he can punch the oncoming aphids. The font size is quite small and may be difficult to read on an iPhone or iPod. Though the text is read aloud with highlighted words, kids can't tap on a word they don't recognize to hear it alone. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared. 

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What's it about?

GARDEN GUARDIAN BY POLISHED PLAY brings kids into the story by allowing them to customize the characters with their own faces or those of friends and family. Kids can create new "actors" for the story by taking a picture of their face, choosing their gender, and then selecting a skin tone. They name their character and then can start reading the story or continue customizing. Each actor can have 10 facial expressions, and kids can take a picture of themselves making a silly face for each one. They can use two actors when reading the story. Once the story begins, kids will see their own face on the fairy (or Lady Beetle) and their name used in the tale. The facial expressions change throughout, so the characters' emotions match the story.

Is it any good?

Kids will love taking the pictures with each facial expression and then seeing their face starring in the story. Garden Guardian by Polished Play is a cute story with a really fun personalized twist. Whereas some ebooks let you put your face in the action, very few incorporate multiple shots so that the characters actually look like they're reacting to what's happening. The results are often hilarious for kids, so they may want to read it again and again after adding more pictures. Also, for kids who struggle with emotions, it can be a great way to practice identifying and mirroring feelings. On the downside, the story is wordy and the font on each page is small for a kids' story. Some pages have very little interactivity, while others have significantly more but no prompts to help you start. In the end, though, it's a fun way for kids to personalize a story and learn a bit along the way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about facial expressions and how to use them in Garden Guardian by Polished Play. How can you tell if someone is happy or sad or angry? What are the clues?

  • Talk to your kids about screen use and limits. How can kids enjoy digital media in balance with other activities?

  • Talk about caterpillars and butterflies. How are they alike? How are they different?

App details

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