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Plum’s Creaturizer app review

img_0487It’s that (internet) age-old problem: if kids are staring at screens, they aren’t playing outside. PBS Kids’s Plum’s Creaturizer app (2015; iOS and Android), follow-up to the Plum’s Photo Hunt app, attempts to combine techie-fun, some very early science, and outdoor play. According to the “For Parents” section, its aim is to help children “develop a love for this amazing, beautiful, and dramatic planet we call home.”

On the “Build a Creature” screen you’ll see a large scary-silly monster. Tap on a body part of the creature and that part changes color, shape, etc. The features are mostly fantastical or nonsense-y, with some vague real-life corollaries (multicolored horns, wings, beaks, talons, trunks, tails, etc.). There’s a pink button at the bottom left of the screen that rapidly cycles through monsters if you want a truly random creature.

Once you’re happy with your creature, press “done.” Four boxes appear, each with a camera icon and an animal-behavior word: “Hop,” “Hide,” “Defend,” “Eat.” You’re directed to “Choose a mission.” Select one of the words (“Eat: Show your creature looking for food”), then, with grownups’ permission, enable your tablet’s camera feature — pictures are stored both within the app and in your tablet’s photo library — and head outside.

(Disclaimer: if you’re working on deadline, you might take the pictures around your apartment instead.)




You can resize your monster, change the direction it’s facing, etc., through taps and pinches, to situate the creature in the real-life outdoor scenes the way you’d like. Take your picture, then select your next mission. (The missions are tailored somewhat to the feature choices you made earlier, e.g., “Hop: Where does it hop using its feathery feet?”) After four missions, you can watch a slideshow, then start all over with a new creature. Later, you can look back at them all in your “Creature Gallery.”

There’s not a whole ton of substance, but it’s silly and fun — and there is a tiny bit of learning going on, if you want it.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 5.1.1 or later) and Android devices (requires Android 2.2 and up); free. Recommended for preschool and primary users.


Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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