Think Like Churchill

Touch Press/Hodder & Stoughton/ Churchill Heritage. Guided by Boris Johnson. illus. by Jaime Huxable. 2015. iOS, requires 7.1 or later. Version 1.1.0. $3.99.
Gr 5 Up—How do a lifetime of choices prepare a leader to guide a nation wisely in wartime? The app uniquely combines sound effects, music, text, art, a little animation, and viewer choice to dig deeply into deciphering the character of Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, during and after World War II.The index invites users to explore five episodes in Churchill's life, beginning with a childhood skirmish on a bridge and concluding with the evacuation of Dunkirk. Although the episodes can be viewed in any order (navigation from one to another is easy), a clearer understanding of the man is developed by working through them chronologically. The narrative is spare, but readers can choose to learn more by exploring hot spots that offer additional information.The art and use of captions will appeal to readers of sophisticated graphic novels as detailed scenes in muted colors lead them through each event. Quotes from Churchill are recognized by their peach-colored backgrounds. Once users have absorbed all the evidence within each scenario, they're invited to predict: What would Churchill do? Their choice is confirmed as correct or briefly acknowledged as incorrect, and his actual decision is provided.Readers then analyze their choice and motives, and an intriguing graphic compares their motives with what is known about Churchill's. At the end of each episode, a collage of related photos, letters, postcards, and the texts of speeches yield their contents when tapped. Typed notes for some of Churchill's most famous speeches are surprisingly touching.Think Like Churchill provides nonfiction text; includes primary sources; promotes analysis, evaluation, and higher-level thinking; and is beautifully designed and fun. The creators promise additional free content to come, and readers won't be able to resist signing up to receive the next chapter, about D-Day. They may also wonder what their choices reveal about them. As Dumbledore said, "It is our choices, Harry, far more than our abilities, that show what we really are."—Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School, Seattle School District

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