For decades, Holocaust literature has had a secure spot in the curriculum of many middle- and high-school libraries across America. But when Steven Winkelstein, a New Jersey author best known for his children’s book series about Lucy the Elephant, decided to tell the true story of a Holocaust survivor named Laura, he wanted to merge the story of the 20th century’s most horrific genocide with the technology of the 21st century.
“Brisko: A True Tale of Survival,” is Winkelstein’s latest project, but rather than appearing as just a traditional book, it’s also an interactive app. It tells the true story of a young girl named Libe (known today as Laura), who is still alive today thanks to a family of righteous gentiles and their dog, Brisko.
Winkelstein decided to write the story during a visit to the Children’s Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem, later writing on his blog, “It was after I walked out of that room and into the light of day that I knew I had to write something for children about the Holocaust. Over a year after I’d returned to the States, I met Laura, the survivor in my new book.”
In writing his book, Winkelstein realized that there are zero interactive apps about the Holocaust available for the iPad, despite the fact that educational platforms are quickly shifting to its technology. “Without moving into the future with these stories, the lessons learned from the Holocaust will be lost entirely on new generations,” Winkelstein says in a video on the project’s indiegogo page, where he hopes to raise $54,000 to launch the app. He partnered with Twin Engine laps to create the technology, and says that the app will be available for sale through the Apple Store as soon as it is completed.
Through the app, which includes maps and photos that aren’t available in the paper copy, readers in faraway classrooms can connect and talk about the story.
“Students can discuss the book with students all over the world,” Winkelstein says. “There’s no telling how many classrooms and iPads Brisko might reach.”