Jul 22, 2016

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Beric the Briton

I am not an auditory learner, and neither are my kids. So audio books are not a staple in our school. However, when the story is just too good to pass up, and the production is too well-done to miss, then we do listen just for the fun of it. And what is it that is so good, so quality, so enjoyable that we all eagerly crowd around to hear? Why, none other than Heirloom Audio Productions, of course! 

We have reviewed for them before (I linked those reviews at the bottom of this post) so we were excited to receive their latest release, Beric the Briton

Now first, I need to explain that Heirloom Audio Productions doesn't make just plain old audio books, which are books read aloud. Their stories are adventures with background music, sound effects, and different actors for different voices. It's a full-fledged theater without the visual aspect. 

Heirloom Audio takes G. A. Henty stories, tales of adventure, that inspire courage, selflessness, honesty, and faithfulness, and produces a quality performance that even us visual folks can appreciate and enjoy. 

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

This latest tale, the story of Britain's attempt to throw off the rule of Rome, is set around the fictional tale of a young chieftain, Beric the Briton but involves many real life Historical people, including: Queen Boadicea, Nero, the Apostle Paul, and even Jesus (although He is only talked about as this story takes place after His death). 

As is usual in Henty's tales, there is high adventure, battles, danger, acts of courage and bravery, but there is also spiritual depth, sacrificial acts, love shown to enemies, and the overcoming of self with the strength that comes from a relationship with God.

I love my children hearing these stories of unflinching courage in high adrenaline situations and deliberate bravery where the character chooses the right way instead of the easy way.

My kids enjoy the suspense of a good tale, the humor that is weaved throughout, and the satisfying good ending.

We all appreciate the high quality of the production, the high profile of the actors who do the voices (Mom! Mom! It's Dr. Who!!!!) and the overall excellence of the work as a whole.

In addition to the CD, we received a handful of bonus products that we downloaded. 
  • a lengthy behind-the-scenes video that intrigued my kids
  • a beautiful poster of lions in the Colosseum with an inspiring quote
  • a cast poster
  • MP3 downloads of Beric the Briton
  • a beautiful full-color PDF of the original Henty story
  • a recipe for Celtic oatcakes
  • a study guide

It's the study guide that I want to talk about now. Every Heirloom Audio story comes with a study guide and they add so very much to the experience. I prefer the old method of putting a physical copy in the CD, because I like to hold them in my hand to use them with the kids. The guides are full-color, which is beautiful but there's no way I could afford to print them! So we read them off the computer or the iPad when I get around to shifting the PDF over to it.

The study guide contains bits of historical information, complete with pictures that pulls the kids in deeper into the actual history of the story. It also offers vocabulary words, a few activities like recipes, and lots and lots of questions. These questions are divided into the tracts of the CD so you can ask them at the end of your listening time wherever you happen to stop. 

The questions are also divided into Listening Well and Thinking Deeper categories. Listening Well questions are comprehension sort of questions like "What plunder does Beric rescue from the city?" and  "Where do the British chiefs meet after the battle?"

Thinking Deeper questions require the kids to think a little harder. Some examples of these questions are, "The Britons' war against the Fens was long in the past. Why would the Fens still hate and fear the Britons in Beric's day? Do you think most people feel and think like this? How can such long lived resentment be overcome?" and "What moves Beric to rescue the Romans? Is this consistent with what we have seen of his character so far? Explain."

For Beric the Briton, we divided out listening into three different sections. Each time, I just gauge when the kids are starting to get restless and we turn it off at the end of the tract. I know a lot of people listen in their car, but we don't spend that much time driving. So I have the kids choose quiet things to do: Lego, drawing, coloring, dolls, etc. and we just listen for awhile. When we are done, we go over the questions for that section.

The kids say:

Kaytie: One thing I like about these is that they are not just reading. There are sounds in the background that help you visualize what's going on. I like how they started the story as a letter, because I think it's alluding to the next story by mentioning that he is going to Egypt and because it is a different way of starting than the others we have listened to. 

Nate: It was a good story. It seems to mostly be about the conversion to Christianity for Britain. There was a lot of war, too. Lots of fighting. I like the war bits! They burned down an entire town which was cool. 

Daniel: I liked that it was inspiring and taught a lot about Jesus. I liked the part where they fought the battles. The mushy parts were blech and gross. (Mom note: There is always a love story, but it is always clean, respectful, and appropriate.)

Abbie: I liked when they were fighting the lion in the Colosseum. That was my favorite part because it was so exciting. I liked that they were willing to die for Jesus. I also liked that he saved the man and his son from drowning even though they were his enemies. 

This was one of my favorites of Heirloom Audio Productions. British history is a love of mine and I really appreciated how the story intertwined with both Roman and Biblical history. I loved the references to Paul and Jesus. And of course, I loved the snippets of humor scattered around. We have listened to all the Henty stories that Heirloom Audio has put out so far, and loved every single one. You can read our reviews of them by clicking the links below

In Freedom's Cause

With Lee in Virginia

The Dragon and The Raven

Under Drake's Flag

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

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