Hubby and I drove to Portland for a VA appointment and listened to the CD Under Drake’s Flag. I knew it was a good sign when I saw him turn up his hearing aids. We were quickly engaged with the story, and even drove a few errands when we returned home just to finish. The following week the boys and I planned a trip to Coos Bay and I couldn’t wait to share the story with them. It was a foggy cold morning when we headed out, perfect for an audio book theater to learn about Sir Francis Drake.
Our crazy crew. So here were my questions going in: Would this radio theater encourage them to enjoy the adventures of G.A. Henty? Would they be too old for audio books? Would it make them want to read an adventure book? Would I be listening alone while they plugged their headphones into their iPods 15 miles into the trip? Would they complain? Would they like the voice of the reader? (I found out with hubby that it wasn’t one reader.) Would they moan and complain? Wait. I said that twice.
Right away they were hooked. It has a Princess Bride sort of start, of an older gentleman pulling the boys into the story. With adventures at sea, on boats, and with ship captains, they were quickly engaged. Highway 101 down the Oregon Coast made for a beautiful visual backdrop to listen. We enjoyed the players very much. This is definitely theater, audio theater which is much more enjoyable for the boys than even the most well read single voice audio book.
The story itself is a wonderful adventure following Sir Francis Drake during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. We had a hard time deciding if Drake was a Ship Captain for Good, or a Pirate. I’d assume it would depend on which country you lived in. Our entire family was unfamiliar with the Spanish Inquisition, so that was educational. They boys were surprised to hear that Drake was a real person who lived from 1546-1596 and that G.A. Henty wrote the story some time in his life between 1832 and 1902.
They were fully engaged with the story. Each time we stopped they’d turn it back on and find our track. They only took a short time to take a break from the story. By the way, it does take a muscle to learn how to listen to long stories on audio. Start with short bits, take a break, and move to longer stories with younger kids, or kids new to listening. They stopped to ask questions about the story as well. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
The quality of the voices, music, background noises – perfect. Created in London, the voices are beautiful. The production of the radio drama – made it easier to listen to. It is packaged beautifully as a gift, beautiful colors and images in a two CD package with a Study Guide.
The Study Guide has suggestions for each section. Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. In Listening Well, they give questions that will spark conversations. What are the names of Drake’s two ships? What matter of ship’s etiquette (how to behave properly) does Ned have to learn? According to Master Holyoake what is Drake’s Mission? For Thinking Further – What do Americans usually associate with the town of Plymouth? Why does Drake’s mission seem “an act of madness”? Does Holyoake believe that all Catholics are evil? Defining Words – Green Hand, Flag Ship, Spanish Inquisition.
I read through the study guide and actually read more of the questions out loud with hubby at the Portland VA Medial Center than I did on our trip. We were not studying this time period in history, just enjoying an adventure story. However, there would be plenty to turn this into part of a school credit and create quite a bit of rich conversation.
Here’s one more shot from our tip: Several times the character saves folks from the cliffs and sea. My Lifeguard Son really liked those parts. Here is a short stop on our trip – they could identify with the waves crashing on the rocks. oh – and my youngest son says that this would make a really great movie, he could watch the movie in his head as we drove along. My oldest son says that he might give other G.A. Henty books a try. We all said we’d love another audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions . My sons have already passed on the CD to a friend in town that has two boys younger than mine. I’m sure it will continue to be passed on.
(For the 6 yr old crowd, as this was written way back when –
there is mention of pipes and kissing – my boys pointed out something else too,
that you wouldn’t hear on a children’s story.) Update: Heirloom Audio Productions is about to release a new audio drama sometime this fall. In Freedom’s Cause the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
You can find out more here:
Website: www.InFreedomsCause.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Freedoms-Cause/709854392414212