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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Heirloom Audio Productions - Review

I shared with you recently how much I love audio dramas.  Well, we got the chance to review another great one when we received Under Drake's Flag  from Heirloom Audio Productions.

This is a very professional two CD set of Under Drake's Flag.  The drama is based on G.A. Henty's book of the same name.  It is designed for ages 6+....but, as usual, V-girl, who just turned 5 was listening in with us and enjoyed it too.  I listened to this alongside A-man, S-girl, and V-girl.

The back of the CD says that the CD has 2 hours of non-stop adventure.  I agree.  It was definitely action packed.

We listened to this either while we ate lunch on school days or just after lunch when we would normally have read aloud time/quiet time together.

Some days, the kids sat at the table and doodled while we listened.  Other days we just all piled together on the couch and listened to the story.

There are so many cliff hangers built in, that it was sometimes hard to know when to stop and restart on a new day.

The story tells about Sir Francis Drake from the perspective of young Ned Hawkshaw, and Gerald (I call him Ned's trusty sidekick!),  who end up serving on Drake's ship. There is pretty much everything a youngster could want in a story....especially if that youngster is a boy.  There are shark attacks, battles/fights, shipwrecks, damsels in distress, and, of course, the Spanish Inquisition.

I will say that A-man enjoyed this a bit more than the girls....although I was surprised that they really paid attention to the story and watching their eyes get big when the story was unfolding was funny....and cute.

D-man was home one day when we were listening and after complaining about how loud we had the volume turned up, asked what it was about. A-man told him and D-man said, "Oh, yeah, Drake and the Spanish Inquisition....we studied that last year."

A-man stopped what he was doing and said, "Wait!  This is a true story?"

Somehow, he had missed that part of my lecture....that this is was a story based on a real person and real events that had happened in his life.  So, yes, A-man this was real history you were listening to! (He later realized that there is a section on Sir Francis Drake in his Piratepedia book!)

D-man then went into a mini-lecture of his own about how important Sir Francis Drake was in history.....American history.  He said that thanks to Drake's genius military strategies, Spain lost a battle that they should have won.  Had the Spanish won, they would likely have gone on to be the great European power instead of Britain and the new colony of America would not have been the same.  America wouldn't be what or who we are now.

It was an interesting conversation.  Rainman even got in on the discussion of whether D-man was saying that it would have been a bad thing for America to be a Spanish colony rather than a British colony.  The debate between the two of them trailed off into the kitchen, back to the living room and into the bedroom to put clean clothes away.   The rest of us had stopped listening by then.  Life in a homeschool house!  Right?

This is really and truly a high quality recording.  The sound effects were so good, they were sometimes startling.  The actors.....of which, there about 20.....were spectacular.  Overall, it is just a quality drama.

I love seeing the kids immersed in the story and sitting on the edge of their seats to see if the shark would attack or if the girl would be saved.

Under Drake's Flag and the stories it tells of living in this time period, reminded me that we aren't necessarily raising our young men to be.....real men.  If you know what I mean?  I guess I am not really sure what I meant.  Just that as I listened along with the kids, I realized how hard life was back then.  That mother's had to be okay sending their young men.....boys, to work out in the world.  That those same boys Ned and Gerald in Under Drake's Flag....had to have a strong work ethic, a lot of skills and be able to handle a lot of responsibility......and even deal with conflict without having a mom or dad to run and tattle to.....that boys in this day and age just don't have.

It made me feel both blessed that I don't have to send them out into the world as a boy to serve on a ship out on the ocean.....and a little disappointed that my boys don't have some of those same skills that the boys in the story had.

The characters in Under Drake's Flag faced some tough choices in life.....not the "tough" choices our kids make.....Who do I take to the dance?  What do I wear?  What am I going to do if I can't have my phone for half a day?  These days, we prolong childhood with adolescence and don't expect much of them....or we explain their poor choices away by explaining that science has proven that their brains aren't fully developed until they are 25.  That kind of logic didn't fly in Ned and Gerald's day.  They were expected to be young men and perform their duties and make the right choices....whether their brains were fully developed or not.

I know, I kind of went off on a tangent there didn't I?

I really enjoyed Under Drake's Flag and so did, A-man.  S-girl and V-girl liked it, but not as much as A-man and I.

There was a short, 15 mini-page study guide that came with the CD.  It is divided into 3 sections for each part:

Listening Well
Thinking Further
Defining Words

I didn't use this every time we listened, but I usually looked through the questions and cherry picked a few that I thought they would be able to answer.....or that would start a discussion....or, picked a vocabulary word or two for us to learn.  There is a much more detailed study guide available on-line which would enable you to really dig in as an in depth history study.

There is even a mini-Bible study in the back of the book.  The Bible Study II section on "True Manhood" just solidified the feelings that I was having about raising men   It is a little fuzzy in my picture, but it talks about Ned's coming of age and particular ideas of what a "real" man is.  Things like courage, self-sacrifice, mercy, wisdom, and faith in God.  That is my kind of man....and hopefully, I am raising that type of man at my household.

The total recording time was about 2 hours, but, he story moved really quickly.  I will say it occasionally moved a little too quickly and we were left trying to figure out who was talking and who actually died....but we always figured it out, so it wasn't a big deal.

If you want to listen to a fun, well acted, exciting sounding historical story, you can get Under Drake's Flag two ways:  An instant download for $20, or the two CD set that we got for $29,95.

Go and see what other TOS Reviewers thought of Under Drake's Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions.