Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Britfield & the Lost Crown

Our family loves when we get the opportunity to review books. The kids spend a large portion of their school day lost in a book and we sit together and enjoy a good read-aloud as a family often, but there are times when reading just isn't feasible. It is those times especially when we enjoy audio books. 

Britfield & the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart is a brand new book that is available in all formats. While I love a physical book--the smell of the paper, the touch of the pages, the visual of my progress, the entire experience really--I decided that the audio version would fit our needs better at this time.

This adventure book is geared toward ages 10-18 roughly and is part one of a projected five-book series. The author, C.R. Stewart, is a seasoned writer with much experience in film production, global strategy, international marketing, and public speaking. He was inspired to write the Britfield stories after sketching a scene of a boy and girl in a hot air balloon. The first book takes place all across the land of England and highlights places that Stewart himself has visited. His familiarity of the country shines through in his details, making the narrative come alive.   

The story follows the adventures of Tom and Sarah, orphans at Weatherly in Yorkshire. More like a prison than a loving home, the malevolent orphanage worked the children too hard, punished them too much, and gave them too little. One night, after an unethical and undeserved punishment, Tom decided to free Sarah from her solitary dungeon. He, with the help of the other orphans, staged a coup with an elaborate plan. Not only did they succeed, but both Tom and Sarah used the chaos as a cover to escape the orphanage through a secret tunnel.

The best friends were on the run, not only from the malicious supervisor of the orphanage, but from a renown detective who specializes in missing children, as well. They meet unlikely friends as they race all across England to outsmart their pursuers. The pair trekked through a muddy swap, commandeered a hot air balloon, joined a carnival in the air, gained a surprising companion, stayed in Windsor Castle, got shot, nearly drowned in Serpentine Lake, climbed out of two-story windows, and experienced many other adventures. Their quest, which began simply as wanting to get as far away from Weatherly as possible, became much more important as they started to make connections about Tom's past and who his parents might be.

The story is action-packed from the beginning to the end, and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. Tom and Sarah find themselves in one nerve-wracking situation after another, making the story tense yet exciting. I feel that the writing is perfect for the target age, but still greatly enjoyed by my younger kids, as well. My group, ranging from 13 years down through 4, liked the book so much that they started asking for the next one before we even finished listening to this.

Aside from a thrilling story, I appreciate all the historical facts and geographical references sprinkled throughout. It is a delightful combination of fact and fiction as it weaves in places like St. Paul's Cathedral, Oxford University, Heathrow Airport, St. Mary's Abbey, Christ Church, Radcliffe Camera,  Blenheim Palace, and more. It mentions, Dickens, Churchill, Queen Victoria, Jane Austen, and other notable English people. 

C.R. Stewart, author
If you'd like to turn the book into a more thorough learning opportunity, there is an 8-week study guide available. This 83-page PDF is filled with exercises broken down by chapter: Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, Going Deeper, Learn More With Technology. There is a variety of activities including fill in the blank, matching, crossword puzzle, word search, short answer, and  multiple choice for the first two sections. The others, Going Deeper and Learn More With Technology, require the reader to put more thought and effort into the assignment. There is a lot of "what do you think?" and "how do you feel?" and "justify your answer" type of things, along with researching online about various points in the book, such as facts about the current Prime Minister, learning about famous artists showcased in Windsor Castle, studying locations all around England, and more. The conclusion of the study guide also has sections to review the plot, conflict, characters, and theme of the book. There is a complete answer key at the very end. My only complaint is that the pages are done in a gray scale, requiring a lot of ink to print. A plain white background would be appreciated.

In addition to the study guide, there are many other free teacher resources to enhance the learning experience, including samples of the book, games, and creativity suggestions. The website itself is packed full of information, too. There are historical facts and beautiful pictures that help the reader visualize the places and landscapes of the country. 

The audio version is 9 1/2 hours in length and read with a British accent. It was produced by Devonfield Publishing, the author's own company, and is available from Audible.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed Britfield & the Lost Crown! My kids fell in love with Tom and Sarah and their journey. We can't wait to see the adventure continue in France in book two, Britfield & the Rise of the Lion.

You can connect with Britfield & the Lost Crown on the following social media sites:

Other homeschooling families had the opportunity to review either a paperback copy or an ebook of Britfield & the Lost Crown. You can read those reviews and more of the audio version on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Britfield & the Lost Crown  {Reviews}

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