Since Arlene works as a Civil War interpreter for her (volunteer) job, we are always looking to expand her knowledge of the time. The problem we have had in the past is that Arlene found trying to read Henty's novels a dry experience. We were thrilled to receive Jim Hodges' MP3 Audio Book of With Lee in Virginia. This unabridged reading of Henty's work runs 11 hours and 20 minutes. Because it is an MP3 CD, you will need to listen to it on your computer, DVD player, or on a MP3 CD player. Arlene listened to the story through our DVD player a little each day as she folded laundry. (Some newer cars have the ability to play MP3 CD's, this would be a great option for a long trip!)
Besides the 11+ hours of listening to With Lee in Virginia, Jim Hodges Productions has an available 58 page PDF Study Guide to go alongside the story. You will find this study guide particularly helpful if this is your first foray into studying the Civil War... or your first time listening to a Henty novel. Each chapter in the study guide has vocabulary words, questions, and activities. After each 5th chapter, there is a short quiz. Two great plusses to the study guide, 1- the vocabulary words are in the order they appear in the story (not alphabetically,) and 2- the activity sections have many clickable links, including things like a video about the first battle of Bull Run, and Civil War themed crossword puzzles. This Study Guide should have Unit Study families in eager anticipation of what fun activity comes next.
Although Arlene is fairly well versed in Civil War terminology, I found the vocabulary sections helpful for myself. Because of the length of the story, I would recommend printing off the pages with the vocabulary words to keep at hand. Look up the words and discuss them as necessary with your children. The story is geared for ages 10 and up, but like all things Civil War, preview it before sharing with your children. The Study Guide can be used to help you and your children have a deeper understanding of what happened during the war. Perhaps for your younger children (under 12?) you might just discuss the Chapter Questions instead of having them write out the answers.
If you've never cracked open a copy of With Lee in Virginia, you may be surprised to find out that this story is told from a Southern perspective with a twist. The twist is that the storyline is told by an Englishman living in the South during the war. Arlene mentioned a couple of times that this brought to light a different perspective than she had previously read about slavery and the Civil War.
Since Arlene was our main listener, I asked her to share her thoughts on the audio book.
This G.A. Henty audio book is one man reading an unabridged edition. I will start off with why I like this audiobook better than reading the book itself, which is odd, because normally I love to read. One of my friend's family has a lot of G.A. Henty novels, all old editions. I asked to read one when I was over once, despite what my friend told me about him being a very boring author. I started reading Under Drake's Flag and barely got through the first paragraph. We have a modern copy of With Lee in Virginia (the audio book we are reviewing) here at home. I tried reading it as well and found it kind of boring also, but I like listening to audiobooks because I can do other things while I'm listening to them and I don't sit still very well. Being interested in the Civil War, I found it different as I've always looked at the war from a Northern perspective, and it is educational on the war in general. The book is about a young man named Vincent Winfield, the son of a Southern plantation owner who finds himself in the middle of the Civil War. It is about his adventures from right before the Civil War begins until its end. Events include aiding a runaway, the battle of Bull Run, McClellan's Advance, being taken prisoner, and being in battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The audio book is an MP3 file and is 11 hours and 20 minutes long. The chapters range from 25 minutes to 44 minutes in length. Jim Hodges, the man who reads the book, has many other titles of G.A. Henry novels for all ages.
I would like to remind you that for your older students, the files can easily be loaded to an iPod or other MP3 device, allowing them to take the story with them. We enjoyed being able to listen to the story, as opposed to reading it (most of Henty's novels are rather long,) and the Study Guide can really help you delve deeper into the story. The MP3 CD of With Lee in Virginia retails for $25, or you can purchase the digital download for $18. The PDF Study Guide retails for $12.
Other Crew families reviewed a whole basketful of Henty titles from Jim Hodges Productions, click the banner below to read all about them!