This app takes a stab at introducing youngsters to the abomination of World War I.
There is no getting around World War I as a seriously grisly affair. There was trench warfare (there is an archival photograph here of the no man’s land between trenches that’s just breathtaking, and there isn’t even anything dead in the image, except one of those creepy old tanks), mustard gas, going over the top (as that suicidal dash across no man’s land was known) and that great gift to close combat, the flamethrower. A cartoon figure guides users along the timeline of this app (the narration is voiced by an earnest British child, lightening the atmosphere a touch), pointing out salient moments such as the battles of the Somme, Ypres, Verdun (one year long and nearly a million casualties), as well as the surreal soccer game played between rival combatants one Christmas day and the odd fact that messenger pigeons were parachuted to the troops on the front line. The presentation of written information feels scattershot, with up to six text boxes crowding the page with fact snippets. There are a couple of fine maps that convey a sense of how Europe has evolved geopolitically over the years, a good selection of artwork to temper the horror and also enough raw data to make readers pause. Millions dead, over 20 million casualties and a result that blossomed into Nazism—what a colossal black mark in history.
A worthy foray through the grim years of World War I—un-overwhelming in a good way. (iPad informational app. 8-12)