Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the Riegn of Terror

Our family appreciates the privilege of reviewing products as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. Over the years, we've been introduced to some amazing vendors and have fallen in love with their products. Heirloom Audio Productions is one of our favorites. They have produced some of the best audio dramas we have ever heard and always make our family happy to learn history.

Our schooling is very literature-based. Our family loves read-alouds and will often sit together to read various novels for hours on end. I love reading my kids quality literature and sharing that time with them. Not only does it teach them life lessons, it also introduces them to new vocabulary. Along with that time spent together, we love to incorporate audio books and dramas into our days. Whether we're folding clothes, driving in the van, or just needing some downtime, audio books are perfect. In the Reign of Terror is no exception.

Heirloom Audio Productions has converted multiple historical adventure novels by G.A. Henty into theater-quality audio dramas. Our main curriculum lists many Henty books in the reading list, because they are known for their deep history, rich literature, and exciting plots. So far, my kiddos aren't drawn to the novels themselves, but they are truly captivated by these adaptations. If you close your eyes, you feel as if you're there in the story. Think of it as watching a movie, but with no picture. In fact, each time we turned on the CD, my two-year-old would point to the television, "Turn on, Mama? I watch movie?" The music, the actors, the sound effects--they all make the story come to life. You hear a horse walking on cobblestone streets, the birds chirping, an angry mob shouting, swords clinking, crickets humming, and the glass from a window shattering, and you feel as if you are there in France as one of the characters of the story. It is that realistic. The narrator, Brian Blessed, has a rich, powerful voice that makes the drama exciting to listen to. We were immediately pulled into the story.

The story takes place in the late 1700s during one of the darkest times in history--The French Revolution. It follows the life of Harry Sandwith, a 16-year-old English boy who leaves his homeland to tutor the sons of the Marquis de St. Caux in France. Harry is befriended by the family and becomes like one of their own. Throughout the story, he protected the marquis' daughters from a rabid dog, stabbed a "demon" wolf to death, and escaped an angry mob. He experienced firsthand the terrors and injustices of the times as he watched the people he grew to love imprisoned and put to death, simply because of their heritage. He risked his own life as he tried to reason with the commoners and show them their unlawfulness. In all of this, he trusted in God to guide him. Along with the non-stop action and exciting adventures, there are plenty of morals and Biblical truths taught along the way.

There is a downloadable Study Guide & Discussion Starter that accompanies the story. This complete guide is used to enhance your learning and complement your study. Each section, which correlates to the tracks on the CDs, is  filled with review questions (Listening Well), ideas to get you thinking deeper (Thinking Further), and vocabulary words (Defining Words). There is more information about G.A. Henty, Maximilien Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette; multiple Bible studies that coordinate with the story, many pictures from the times, and much more historical information. There are Expand Your Learning boxes throughout the study that are filled with snippets of information that relate to the period.

There are many more extras that are included as part of the Live the Adventure Club, too. There is the original In the Reign of Terror ebook, the official soundtrack composed by John Campbell, a printable cast poster, an inspirational verse poster, and a downloadable desktop wallpaper. A new thing that I don't remember seeing with other dramas is the inclusion of the official script download. This was extremely helpful during portions of the story that were hard to understand and helped give appropriate information. Also as part of the Live the Adventure Club, you gain access to many more features, such as the community forum, daily motivational quotes and stories, hundred of articles about parenting, collection of rare textbooks from the 1700-1800s, and hundreds of fun activities.  

The 2+ hour audio production is ideal for ages 6-adult, but our entire family enjoyed listening to it. We had a harder time understanding this story than we have with the others. It was a combination of the heavy French accents and the softness of the voices, I think. Normally we can enjoy these while driving, but we realized it took more concentration to follow along because the road noise was a distraction. Even my oldest commented that all the voices sounded similar, so he had a difficult time deciphering which character was speaking.They did, however, enjoy the French words sprinkled throughout the story and laughed at the Frenchman who made funny mistakes when trying to speak English.
We used the study guide questions to review the story and tackle difficult topics. The kids and I especially enjoyed the sections teaching about architecture in Paris in the 18th century, fashions of the day, medical practices, and the guillotine. Of course, the little ones didn't quite understand everything, but it's never too early to introduce quality literature. 
This will be a story that we reference throughout the years. In the Reign of Terror is a wonderful resource to have.

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