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For years, the boys and I loved to listen to audio books or radio dramas while driving around in the car for errands or on long road trips. Keeping this in mind, I was eager to see how they’d respond to a review of Under Drake’s Flag the new radio drama production of G. A. Henty novel by Heirloom Audio Productions which is geared for ages 6 and up.
About Under Drake’s Flag
For the review of Under Drake’s Flag, we received physical audio CD, a set of 2 CDs with a Study Guide and Prayer inside. We also were given access to the downloadable study guide. This retails for $29.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling. If you are purchasing directly from Heirloom Audio Productions, you will also receive a few bonuses we did not receive (the audio in mp3 format and the Under Drake’s Flag Soundtrack MP3 download. They have an all digital option ($20) or a 4 pack ($109.92 including shipping) with loads of extras and the ability to share with others.
This radio drama is an interpretation of G.A. Henty’s story rather than a verbatim production. The story centers around the character of Ned Hawkshaw, a young boy who is given the adventure of a lifetime when he is accepted onto the crew of Sir Francis Drake. Life is constantly throwing curve balls to Ned and his friend, including a shark attack, a shipwreck, battles on the land and sea and finally the Spanish Inquisition. The recording of this adaptation was done in London with a wonderful cast of actors , state of the art sound design by Mark Drury known for The Chronicles of Narnia audio series, and an enjoyable musical score by John Campbell who has worked on Lamplighter Theatre®, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre®, and Adventures in Odyssey®.
This is only the first in a series of planned adaptations. A second is on the verge of launching: In Freedom’s Cause, the story behind the life and legacy of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
Our Family’s Thoughts on Under Drake’s Flag
While the older boys caught snippets of the story when coming in and out of the room, I decided to have my 4 and 11 year old son’s be the primary reviewers. I figured it would introduce J to the idea of a radio drama and engage D in the swashbuckling story. We listened to the first disc of the recording one evening instead of watching the television. That’s the beauty of a radio drama…it has all the audio qualities of a great TV show or movie without the visual component. That enables the listener to imagine their own visual and each listener will have a slightly different picture on their mind. The other portion of the recording was begun on a recent RV trip when we were ‘off grid’ and needed to minimize electrical use. I found it a wonderful way to spend time in the dry RV with a cold rain outside.
While D enjoyed the recording, especially the use of sound effects like in a movie, he did comment that he would most likely prefer to read the actual text. That doesn’t totally surprise me as he is the BIG reader of the boys and I sometimes feel the same way. But, I think it is always nice to share a story with everyone (e.g. a 4 year old who gets more excited about the audio than someone reading from a book) and that is something this does. Plus, you get a wonderful blend of history and adventure with a historical fiction title like this one.
In many ways, I see Under Drake’s Flag to be an alternative to mainstream pirate shows that might entice youngsters who don’t need to see the seedier side of things quite yet. The audio production lasts for 2 hours with the recording broken down into tracks to make it easier to ‘mark’ your place should you need to stop. That makes for either one ‘epic’ night of listening instead of watching a movie or many smaller trips in the car which will have the kids captivated and possibly quiet.
A word of caution..this title does include mention of the Spanish Inquisition. I recognize that there are some Catholics who might like to reserve covering that aspect of history until they are older. My older boys are quite sensitive to comments that might be construed as anti-Catholic. One of them took a character’s mention of their being some places where Catholics and Protestants live alongside each other in peace while other places it is impossible as something against Catholics. I used that side remark by him to pause the recording and have a little refresher about the time period of Sir Francis Drake and how there was a lot of division which did not only exist between Catholics and Protestants. And, we went back through a previous discussion about how there are times when some people act terribly against others, all in the name of God.
Check Out A Trailer for Under Drake’s Flag
Do you use audio books with your children?
Does your family enjoy ‘radio drama’ productions that help bring the stories to life?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit the Under Drake’s Flag post on the Schoolhouse Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this and other self-paced courses.