Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Audiobook My Kids Cannot Get Enough

When our family was offered the opportunity to review Under Drake's Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions, we jumped at chance.  

  • Adventure.  
  • History.  
  • Excitement.  
  • Morals, faith and values.
  • Engaging listening.  
  • Discussion opportunities.  

We appreciate all these things and thought that the audio theater production of Under Drake's Flag would include them.  We were not wrong.

Our Experience
Luke's Under Drake's Flag inspired Lego build.

As soon as we received the 2-cd set of Under Drake's Flag in the mail, we put it in our minivan for our next ride.  No sooner did that ride begin than were we swept up in the engaging adventures of Ned Hawkshaw and his friend Gerald.  

The dramatic audio theater adaptation of G.A. Henty's book Under Drake's Flag captured us so much that we found ourselves glued to our seats even when our ride was over.  Shipwrecks.  Shark attacks.  Jungle adventures.  A boy's incredible journey into manhood.  Both the story of these things and the way it was presented kept the kids and me riveted.  For Under Drake's Flag  is more than just an audiobook adaptation of a classic piece of literature.  It is a dramatic, professionally cast "radio theater" type adventure, complete with music, sound effects and a complete auditory feast to ignite imaginations!

We were so engaged by the audio drama that we wanted to listen to the full two hours of it in one sitting.  We could not, though, since we had to get into a commitment to be at.  So, we paused the CD, enjoyed the commitment we had been driving to and then raced back into the minivan to hear the rest of Ned's adventures. 

During subsequent drives, chore times and manipulative-play times in our home, we listened to the engaging Heirloom Audio Productions audio drama again and again by request.

Credit: Under Drake's Flag

Since a study guide booklet was included in the CD packaging, during one listening period when Daddy was driving, I paused the CD every once in a while so I could ask our children questions and challenge them with words as presented in the study guide.  Our children did A-okay with the comprehension questions for "Listening Well", more questions for "Thinking Further" and vocabulary for "defining Words", but they did get a bit annoyed that I kept pausing the CD to present all of these things.  So, that was that for formal studies for us. 

We did not dive into the three short Bible Studies included n the booklet nor the more in-depth 30-page printable study guide that comes as a free bonus when you order an MP3 version of the audio drama which had been sent to me via email when I accepted the opportunity to review the physical CD's.  We did, however, continually dive into informal study and discussion inspired by the many times we listened to Under Drake's Flag.  

Luke also dictated his own review of the CD to me:

I love it!  It's actually telling a story...  I mean, the way the actors tell it. 

I like how it starts.  That a guy who doesn't lie history finds out that history is really good.

 I like the adventure.  It's about fighting. My favorite part is when a weaker force defeats a stronger force.  The Africans were weaker weapons-wise and beat the Spaniard's trained army.

I didn't lie the inquisition.  They do all that mean stuff.

But I love the story!

Indeed, we all love the story and find that we keep coming back to listen to it again and again.  

Personally, I appreciate that:

  • It is fast-moving and keeps us all riveted.  (That means no bickering during long drives!)

  • It captures our imaginations.  (That means many related child-led dramatizations, conversations and crafts have spring up!)

  • It reinforces strong moral values like courage, conviction and character.  (And, yes, I admit.  I have actually gotten teary at some points while listening.  "It is time for you to become a man."  Oh, I do not look forward to the day I say those words to my son, but I do pray that all of my children grow into adults with strong moral values.)
  • It feeds our family's appetite for history and adventure.  (Even if I was not quite prepared to dive into the darkness of the Inquisition with my kiddoes, I have now.  And it went well.)
  • It speaks to my theater-loving side.  (As a former actress and current drama teacher, I LOVE theater and, undoubtedly, this presentation of Under Drake's Flag IS theater!)

Of all the audios we have reviewed so far this year, this definitely ranks as the most played and loved!  I cannot recommend it more strongly to others who love audio theater, as well as to those who may not hitherto have tried out listening to audio dramas as a family.  

I will, however, add one caveat:  Under Drake's Flag is geared for children ages six and up.  My whole family (including our 4-year-old) did fine with it.  However, parts of the story are intense.  The shark attack had us on the edge of our seats, and could well be disturbing to some sensitive listeners.  Likewise, the portions about the Inquisition had all of us squirming and may be best pre-listened to by adults before being shared with easily-disturbed children.

Learn More

Credit: Under Drake's Flag

Listen to a 60-second story summary online.  Also, watch video clips that explain Why Henty, Why Drake and more.

Learn how this active listening audio adventure differs from regular audiobooks and audio dramas. 

Order your own copy of this high-quality production which features acclaimed actors, state-of-the art sound design from the award-winner Mark Drury (The Chronicles of Narnia audio series), and a fantastic music score composed by John Campbell (Lamplighter Theatre®, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre®, Adventures in Odyssey®).  

The 2 CD-set Under Drake's Flag that we reviewed is available for $29.95.  If you order this CD-set, you will get a downloadable study guide, a prayer poster and an MP3 of the audio drama as free bonuses. Heirloom Audio Productions also offers several other packages to suit differing needs and budget.  These range from a $20 downloadable MP3 and bonus materials package to a $99.97 4-pack that includes 8 bonuses.

You can also discover what other families thought about Under Drake's Flag by reading reviews at:

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

What audio books, audio dramas and audio theater productions have been capturing you and yours lately?

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