Jul 30, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: With Lee in Virginia

Heirloom Audio Productions is a favorite company of ours. None of us are auditory learners, so we don't spend a lot of time listening to to audiobooks, but all four of my kids willingly gather into the living room so we can spend an hour or two listening to an Heirloom Audio Productions CD. This month, we've been listening to With Lee in Virginia which we were asked to review for you.

Heirloom Audio Productions produces Audio Adventures, which contains music, sound effects, different voices, and is a performance rather than someone just reading the book aloud. This adds so much richness to the experience. I feel it also stretches my kids' minds because nothing is explained or described. They have to use their imaginations to picture what is happening and also to pay attention to catch all the nuances of the action.

Heirloom Audio Productions puts out a quality product. They use seasoned actors for their voices, actors whose names you will probably recognize, like: Kirk Cameron (and his son, James), Sean Astin, Jim Weiss, and my personal childhood favorite... Chris Anthony! What fun to recognize her voice!

In the past, we have enjoyed and reviewed both Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's CauseWith Lee in Virginia  was just as delightful. I didn't have to tell the kids twice to gather up something quiet to do and meet me in the living room. I popped the CD into my laptop and we spent the next hour with the young hero, Vincent Wingfield, his friend Dan, J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee and many others as they experienced the events of the Civil War.

At the beginning of the story, Vincent, a young plantation owner struggles against the evils of slavery and even helps a neighbor's slave (Dan) to run away to freedom. He then joins the Confederate Army and the story of the war is told from his perspective as he is wounded, watches friends die, and struggles with the meaninglessness of it all.

I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I will focus the rest of the review on the extras that come with the CD and with what we learned from it all.

When you buy the CD for With Lee in Virginia, you receive seven bonus features:

  • an MP3 Download (I like not having to worry if my kids get too rough with our CD, ok, ok, not "if"... "when"... because we have a backup)
  • the original Henty book in ebook form with a colorful formatting and graphics. It's really a pretty book
  • the official soundtrack
  • a full-color cast poster that you can print off
  • a full-color poster of Robert E. Lee's famous quote: Do your duty in all things. You can not do more. You should never wish to do less.
  • unlimited access to the newsletter website
  • a download of the study guide and discussion starter
This study guide is 52 pages long, full-color and sprinkled with photographs, drawings and illustrations from the Civil War era. It has a map and some biographies in the beginning. The study guide itself is broken up into tracks. There are 12 tracks on the first disc and 14 tracks on the second disc. Each track has a series of questions that are either intended to see what the child remembers about the story, or to help him/her dig deeper into the meaning of the story. Most tracks also have vocabulary words to discuss and define.  

At the end of the guide is:
  • a bibliography for learning more about General Lee
  • two short Bible studies. One on "duty" and one on "loving your enemies"
  • a brief discussion of Sectionalism (how the differences in geography led to the differences that led to the War)
  • a discussion of slavery in the Bible and how the New Testament moved societal norms away from an acceptance of slavery
The guide is heavily sprinkled with inspiring quotes from the faith-believing Confederate generals, my personal favorite is Stonewall Jackson's quote, "Duty is ours; consequences are God's."

This was an easy product for us to use. The kids found something quiet to keep their hands busy: Lego; sorting fishing tackle; drawing; and jigsaw puzzles. We divided the listening up into two parts, listening to each disc in a sitting, and then we recalled events; discussed themes, intentions and underlying meanings; and defined vocabulary words as led by the study guide. The kids enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading the quotes as well.

As with all the other Heirloom Audio Productions stories we have been privileged to listen to, we highly recommend With Lee in Virginia.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

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