Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Freedom's Cause {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Do you like history?  Or are you hesitant to teach history because you don't know as much as you'd like?  Do you want to teach your children solid history and positive character traits of good leaders?  Maybe you just appreciate a good audio book?  If any of these describe you, you will be interested to learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions.

I recently received In Freedom's Cause Single Package, for review and it includes the following:
In Freedom's Cause (2 CD set)
In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Download)
In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 download)
Printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (Download)

In Freedom's Cause is the second audio drama we've had the pleasure and good fortune of reviewing, and I had high expectations for this one.  Why did I have such high expectations?  If you remember my review of Under Drake's Flag, you know how much we loved it, and that we were eagerly looking forward to the release of In Freedom's Cause.  That first audio drama renewed my son's interest in audio books and opened up some great discussions between us, and I wanted to keep that spark alive.

The Story
Although we usually listen to audio books in the car, we haven't been out as much lately.  That's what happens when you have a newborn during the middle of winter.  Being in the house more meant we needed something to keep us engaged, and this was the perfect activity!  Within minutes of turning on the story, my 5 year old proclaimed "This sounds like an adventure!"  In Freedom's Cause:  The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce is a retelling of the GA Henty novel by the same title.  It's about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  It's about fighting oppression and freeing Scotland from the rule of England.  It's also about faith and courage and sacrifice.  Yes, it is an adventure!

If you are not familiar with this part of history, I don't want to give too much away.  I'll say that this story casts a fictional Ned Forbes as a young man in Scotland who wants to avenge his father's death at the hands of the English.  It's difficult for Ned to understand why Scotland remains under English control, and through the story we learn how he takes up sword fighting in order to join the cause for Scotland.  We see a constant struggle for peace, a constant struggle for freedom, and the internal struggle this causes on the key players for the fight for independence.  Just suffice it to say, it's a lesson more engaging, more exciting, more personal and emotional than you ever learned in high school.  GA Henty is a well-known and popular historical fiction author, and Heirloom Audio Productions has captured the heart he put into his stories, bringing them to life for a new generation.

If you are a history novice, this story is for you!  Even if you are a history buff, this is an exciting retelling, and the focus on character and faith makes it so much more than just a story from history.  I believe Heirloom Audio Productions has sparked an interest in history in our homeschool, and I am excited to explore a subject that never interested me as a child.

This is roughly two hour adaption of the original book, but it's not just a dry reading of the words.  This is a high quality production.  The voice acting is professional and emotional and draws you right into the story.  You might recognize such names as Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey, Skander Keynes from Chronicles of Narnia and James Cosmo from Bravehart.  The music is delightful, but not overwhelming.  The sound effects are realistic and make you feel as if you're right there in the action!  Although the music and sound effects are an integral part of the listening experience, neither of these take away from the story or make the dialogue difficult to hear or understand.  It's enough dramatization to excite those that love adventure, like my 5 and 8 year old boys, but the dialogue carries the story line and keeps you interested and wanting more.

I will be keeping In Freedom's Cause in our vehicle to keep on our listening rotation.  My kids love audio books, and as they grow, it will be interesting to see what else they take away from this story.  Right now they are younger and their focus is on the plot and the adventures, but as they mature I expect to have many great conversations with them.

The Downloads
The downloadable materials that accompany the CD are just as high quality as the audio drama itself. The soundtrack is exactly what it sounds like.  It is an MP3 download with all of the original music by award-winning composer John Campbell.  The Printable copy of the Prayer of William Wallace is what Wallace uses for his spiritual sword, from Psalm 23.  This is an integral part of the story, one that must not be missed!  The PDF download is a beautiful printable, that would be best printed on card stock.  Then there is the Study Guide.  It is 30 pages and includes a little bit of everything to get the most out of this story.  It includes biographies, study questions, vocabulary, Bible studies, a brief history of Scotland, and a reading list.  Depending on the age of your students or your homeschooling style, the guide can be used as a supplement to the story, or it can be used as a starting point for a full unit study.  I will point out that the guide does not include answers, so you must be familiar with this story to work through the guide with your children.

Notes for Families
**The language is appropriate for children of all ages, so this story can be great for a family activity.  However topics of oppression, death and murder are a bit heavy for younger children, so you may want to listen ahead so you can answer questions or determine its suitability for sensitive children.

**I've been informed by Heirloom Audio Productions  that there will be two new releases in 2015 and you can bet I'm just as excited for these stories as well.  The next release will be With Lee in Virginia, so be on the lookout for it!

**For more information about Heirloom Audio Productions or In Freedom's Cause, check out their website or social media, and be sure to read more crew reviews!


In Freedom's Cause Review

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