Monday, September 8, 2014

Heirloom Audio Productions: Under Drake's Flag {Schoolhouse Review}

I am just going to get straight to the point with this one.  If you are looking to make history come alive, you really need to take a look at Heirloom Audio Productions.  Recently we were given the opportunity to review Under Drake's Flag, their dramatized adaption of G.A. Henty's novel by the same title.

I have heard a lot of good things about G.A Henty's books, but we just haven't gotten around to reading any of them.  However, in the spirit of trying to encourage a little more interest in history, I was certainly intrigued by the idea of an audio adventure.  We love traditional audio books, and this sounded right up our alley!  The story is geared for families, children ages 6 and up.  With the boys being 5 and 7, I figured we would enjoy the adventure and maybe learn a little something in the process as well!

We received the 2-CD set with over two hours of audio that also included a study guide and prayer insert, as well as a detailed PDF study guide.  That's is all you need to start the journey!  This is a story about Ned Hawshank, who is coming into manhood and is invited to sail with the famous English captain, Francis Drake!  It is full of sharks and shipwrecks and battles and the Spanish Inquisition . . . following God's will, standing up for your faith, facing your fears, and making wise choices.  So many adventures and lessons packed into just a couple of hours!

I decided we would listen to the CD in the car while I had a captive audience.   Every time we got in the car, Elliott asked "Can we listen to our story!?"  They were truly captivated by the anticipation and drama of the music and sound effects.  The characters are voiced by famous British actors, and immediately draw you into the story.  When Under Drake's Flag was playing I wasn't allowed to pause it.  One time I thought the boys were falling asleep and turned it off.  I hear murmurs of "Turn it back on!!"  There was never a peep out of either boy while this story played!

When the story was over, my second grader asked from the back seat, "Was that story real or fake?"  I knew he was enamored the entire time, so I was thrilled that he was interested in the historical accuracy of the story!  I really hadn't intended to use the study guide at this point, but his question opened up the path for discussions on fact, fiction, historical fiction and author interpretation.  The PDF study guide is much more in-depth than the pamphlet included with the CD's.  It has comprehension and critical thinking questions, vocabulary, scripture references and a list of additional resources, and although I prefer more of a natural narration approach at this age, it looks great for a more in-depth study.  We gleaned what we needed and it was a handy resource for a simple overview of the background of the story.  I was using the audio drama as more of a "fun extra" resource, and it certainly fit the bill, but the study guide will be a valuable resource in a few years, because I certainly believe we will be keeping these CDs around for a long time!

Overall, we were very impressed with the this audio drama.  The sound effects were definitely high quality, as it felt like we were sitting in a movie theater watching an action packed adventure movie!  It was a captivating and powerful story.  We were able to follow a young man as he followed not only his own dreams, but followed God's will and stood up for his beliefs.  I can definitely recommend this production for anyone interested in history and adventure who wants to reinforce positive character traits in the process!

Note:  There are some scenes where sensitive children might be disturbed--fights, death and torture are all woven into the story.  Parental guidance is recommended by Heirloom Audio Productions.

If you're interested in purchasing this delightful story for your family, you can purchase the 2-CD set for $29.95 (plus $6.95 s/h) and you'll receive several bonuses: instant MP3 downloads of both the audio and the soundtrack, the E-study Guide and Discussion Starter and a printable copy of Drake's Prayer!

There is also the option of just purchasing the instant download (which comes with the study guide and printable prayer) for $20.00, as well as larger packages available for ordering multiple copies of the CD with various bonus offers included.

To find out more about this fascinating production and the story behind it, check out Under Drake's Flag's website or Facebook page.

New Release:  I was so excited to find out that there is a new release from Heirloom Audio Productions coming out soon!  In Freedom's Cause is available for pre-order on the website, and you can check out their Facebook page as well. You can bet this is already on our wishlist!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Crew Reviews for even more perspective on Under Drake's Flag!

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