Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Go Back in Time to the American West and the CA Gold Rush {An Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

When Captain Bayley's Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions came in the mail, I let my youngest open the envelope. He was excited to see what was in it...

...and spent a minute puzzling out the words on the front of the CD set case...

Upon hearing him say, "G.A. Henty," my daughter realized what he had opened, and came into the kitchen.

Cheers rang out!  For, without question, my kiddoes LOVE Heirloom Audio Productions, and I love surprising them with new reviews of these awesome Christian audio dramas!

Of course, as soon as my younger two broke out cheering, my oldest came into the room. 

Then, all hands were on the CD, begging to listen to it right away.  Mean Mama said, "Not yet," though.  "We'll listen to it the next time we're in the car."

I kept my word, and we all remained totally engaged in the story of 
Captain Bayley's Heir on our next long ride, and on a number of rides since. For, true to what happens with all of our Heirloom Audio Productions CD's, our Captain Bayley's Heir became a fast favorite. 

Captain Bayley's Heir

The Story

Captain Bayley's Heir begins in England, where the main character, Frank - a student who is in the care of his wealthy uncle who also has charge over Frank's cousin - saves the drowning dog of a boy who cannot walk.  This boy and Frank become friends, and Frank finds the boy's mother a job in his uncle's household.  

Meanwhile, we learn that the uncle had an estranged, yet beloved daughter that he lost touch with due to a disagreement, and, has since, suffered not knowing what happened to her.  He tries to live happily with Frank and his cousin, but, of course, longs to find his daughter.

Frank, mind you, is a bit boisterous.  He ends up going beyond the boundaries of his school, getting in a fight, and breaking someone's nose.  The man whose nose threatens to let Frank's school know what happened, but says he won't for 10 ounds.  Of course, Frank does not have 10 pounds, but, mysteriously, is sent that very amount with a handwritten anonymous note.

The problem is, a professor has 10 pounds stolen, and, in tracing where it went with the bank, finds out about the fight and accuses Frank of stealing the money.  Frank finds himself at the brink of being expelled from school and disgraced as well.  He sends a note to his Uncle to ask his if his Uncle believes in him, recover no reply, assumes his Uncle has no faith in him, and, at that point, is encouraged by his cousin to run away to America, using 20 pounds his cousin gives him after selling his book collection.

Frank, indeed, escapes to America, in hopes of making a fortune, proving himself, and, somehow, clearing his name of any disgrace.  

In America, adventures and trials await.  Frank makes his way up the Mississippi and westward to goldfields.  Along the way, Frank's courage, integrity, and faith are all tested.  Fortunately, he  meets men along whose experiences and faith bolster him, encourage him, and, at times, keep him safe.

Throughout Frank's journey, he learns to accept God's loving grace and to extend love and grace to others.  In doing so, he ends up working in partnership to meet with success!

Meanwhile, back in England, Frank's uncle discovers that his daughter is dead, but that he has a living heir.  This heir (whose name I will keep a secret so as not to spoil the entire story!), Frank's cousin, and Frank's uncle go off on their own journey, but also decide to put word out to look for Frank.

In the end, Frank is reunited with his family, his name is cleared of the theft, and all who listen to his story - I think - are moved by thoughts about grace and how it might change our own lives. 

We cannot earn grace.  We can only accept it. God bestows it upon us, and, by it, we can be changed.

Extras!  Extras!
Heirloom Audio Productions

No doubt about it.  We LOVE Heirloom Audio Productions CD's in our home.  We also love their extras!

Along with the 2 1/2 hour adv
enture on CD this time, we were also given access to the Live the Adventure website (an online club that you can purchase access to.  There, you can find a host of bonus materials, including:

  • a full-length e-book of Henty's book designed specifically for this release
  • an MP# soundtrack
  • online listening access
  • an online script to read along with the CD
  • online comprehension questions and more
  • a cast poster
  • an inspirational poster
  • desktop wallpaper to download
  • a study guide

The club also has a significant amount of content unrelated to the CD, including:
  • old-time radio broadcasts across various history topics
  • old history texbooks
  • parent resources such as podcasts, recipes, movie reviews, and more
  • Kids Activities like coloring pages and word searches

Among all this, one of the best resources for families that like to extend learning is the Study Guide

This study guide, similar to other ones by Heirloom Audio Productions is split into three main sections per track of the CD set: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words.  

Listening Well is useful for children who can use direct listening comprehension questions.  Thinking Further offers prompts for deeper discussion.  And, of course, Defining Words makes expanding vocabulary easy.  

There are also other bits of information, including some information and links about British money, which was helpful when talking about then pound notes.  

In other words, the Study Guide can be used for traditional Q&A or guided study learning, or it can be used more casually as a catalyst for conversation and hopping down bunny trails.  (We tend to do the latter with it.)

Our Thoughts

As I said, all of my children enjoyed Captain Bayley's Heir.  When writing this review, I asked each for specific thoughts. My seven-year-old said:

"It was good.  I liked the beginning - how it started with a cripple and the student helped him save his dog and, later gave him books.  I also liked the end.  It had a battle between bandits and Frank that was exciting.  People that like saving others will like this book!"

His response made me smile: he got the virtues right off, but also enjoyed - as he usually does - the excitement of intense scenes.

My oldest, at eleven, prefers stories filled with more battles like some of the other Heirloom Audio Productions, but still found himself listening more than once to this CD-set with laughter and suspense, in turn.  He said:

"This audiodrama is not the same as the others.  There is not as much fighting, but the fight scenes that there are, I like.  
I also like how it starts in England and, then, goes to America.  The main character, Frank, goes to America to try to clear his name of something he never did.  He meets new friends and has many adventures, including fighting natives and digging gold.  It's interesting and made me laugh sometimes."

My middle child, at 10, is my most sensitive.  She was delighted to find that 
Captain Bayley's Heir was a more peaceful story than the last Heirloom Audio Productions we listened to, yet was still filled with engaging drama.  She said:

"This story is called Captain Bayley's Heir.  It starts in England in the house of a crippled boy who is playing the fiddle.  Then, it brings you to a different boy - Frank, the main character - when the crippled boy's dog falls through ice and Frank saves him.  From there, a friendship develops.  
The friendship is interrupted when Frank gets in trouble for something at his school that he didn't do, and flees to America.  In America, Frank begins as a ship hand, and, then, his new friend suggests he go to California to get gold.  Frank meets new friends, goes to CA, and meets a young man who pretends to be the companion to someone who is really his father.  The young man, at first, doesn't want any help from Frank and his friends, but, then, accepts it, because his daddy is very sick. 
Frank helps the daddy get better.  The daddy is English, goes back to England, and tells Frank's uncle and friend Alice that rank is innocent. 
It's a good story!  There's a lot of excitement - when they were attacked by natives, when the struck gold, and when we learned who the crippled boy really is.  It also has values - like patience, forgiveness, and trust in God.  I also liked that it isn't gruesome like some other stories.  It's just filled with adventure!"

As for me, I will conclude by saying that Captain Bayley's Heir is another high-quality production by Heirloom Audio ProductionsEasy to follow, fabulous voice actors, sound effects, excitement, humor, virtues and values, faith - it's all in there.  History, conversation starters, and entertainment are, too.  As always, we are grateful for the fun and learning that Heirloom Audio Productions has brought us and would recommend Captain Bayley's Heir to others seeking adventure-filled listening that includes faith against the backdrop of the historical period of the American West and the gold rush.   

Learn More

One-hundred Homeschool Review Crew families took a listen to
Captain Bayley's HeirFind links to all our reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew website.

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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We cannot recommend these CD's enough!  We listen to them over and over and talk about them often.
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