Friday, September 5, 2014

Under Drake's Flag {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

When Addison and Brennan were younger, we spent a lot of time in the car driving to appointments on the other side of Washington DC. We nearly always had an audio book (or two) in the car to make the drive more enjoyable and the inevitable traffic jams less bothersome. Even five years later, they still talk about some of the books we listened to.

On our recent family trip to Colorado, we all listened to Under Drake's Flag -- a story originally written by G.A. Henty and now a new audio dramatization from Heirloom Audio Productions.
Under Drake's Flag tells the story of two young boys who set sail in the 1500s with the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake. I knew that Ned Henshaw would face adventures along the voyage, but I did not imagine the full extent of them. He was lost at sea, survived a shipwreck, fought off a shark, befriended a Spanish princess, joined a band of escaped slaves, battled against Spanish soldiers, and faced the Spanish Grand Inquisitor in Peru before returning home. In true G.A. Henty style, the history of this time period came alive.

These CDs stand above many of the audio books we have listened to in the past because these are audio dramatizations. Each character is portrayed by a different voice actor, and the action is enhanced by sound effects and a fabulous musical score. In some ways, it seemed like we were listening to a movie instead of merely hearing a story read to us.

Brennan was slightly disappointed that the story was about the two boys and not about Francis Drake himself. In some ways, though, the boys had a greater variety of experiences because they did not spend the entire time on a boat with the famed sailor. I found it interesting to experience a wide variety of historical events, instead of focusing on a single historical figure.

The story gets "thumb's up" ratings from most of our family. The producer recommends it for ages six through adult, but we found that the story line was a bit too complex for Lauren (8 years old) to follow along with. Also, several of the action scenes might be a bit too intense and some of the subject matter might be a bit too mature for younger children. I recommend it for ages 10 and up, including adults.

Since we listened to this audio drama on a vacation trip, I did not use the study guide materials included with the CD or available to download. The study guides both include vocabulary words, simple listening questions, and thought-provoking critical thinking questions for each chapter of the book; the pdf version, however, contains nearly twice as many questions to discuss. They both include ideas and scripture references for three separate Bible studies. If I had taken full advantage of the electronic resource, I could've used the Under Drake's Flag dramatization at a pace of one chapter a day for nearly a month.

Under Drake's Flag is available as a two CD set for $29.95, which includes the study guide and several other free downloads. It can also be purchased as an audio download for only $20.

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

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