For this Schoolhouse Review Crew run we received the 2 CD set, which includes a small study guide and the Prayer of Sir Francis Drake. The CD set includes 2 hours of dramatized audio and retails for $29.95. Emily, Arlene, and I listened to the CD's in the car over the course of a couple days. We agreed that the amount of dramatization was just right. It adds to the story, without being overwhelming or making it difficult to hear the dialogue.
If you're not familiar with Henty's Under Drake's Flag, it is a story about Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) and his life as a privateer under Queen Elizabeth of England. The Spanish considered Drake a pirate, the English considered him a hero.
The small study guide included with the CD set can give you questions and topics to discuss with your children. When you purchase the CD's you can also download the full study guide as a 28 page PDF file. The full study guide goes more in-depth and asks you to spend time listening to and thinking about each part of the story. It also includes vocabulary words that you and your children can look up and discuss.
This audio drama is designed for ages 6 through adult, but I would suggest you pre-listen before sharing it with your children under 10 or 11. While there are no words or scenes that are inappropriate for young listeners, the topics of slavery, warfare, and the Spanish Inquisition are covered during the story. As a parent, I would have had a difficult time explaining these to the girls if they were 8 or 10, and I would have wanted time to think through my responses before the questions were asked. Now that they are 14 & 16, this was an excellent open and go story, and a great conversation starter. After listening to the CD's a couple of times, the girls and I talked about pirates/privateers, the Spanish Inquisition, English rule under Queen Elizabeth, and what happened in Europe for the 300 years following Drake's lifetime.
At two hours, this is obviously an adaptation of Henty's original book. I haven't yet read the book, but I liked the audio drama. Arlene commented that is was as well done as a movie, but without the pictures. Emily and I discussed the implications of the war between England and Spain and how the gold and silver Drake captured went back to Queen Elizabeth, and how it might have funded other English endeavors.
The story presented in the CD's focuses on Drake's Christian faith, and is intended to help build character, while teaching about making wise choices.
After listening to the CDs a few times, we discussed the differences between true faith, and using the church for personal gain. I believe the story does a decent job of not going too in depth on touchy subjects, leaving those for your family to discuss. For example it is enough to know there were runaway slaves to understand the story, while you decide how in-depth your family wants to go with discussing specifics of slavery and mistreatment of other people.
I enjoyed Henty's way of telling the story of Sir Francis Drake through the eyes of Ned and Gerald. I frequently read historical fiction because I find that a well-written historical fiction novel can teach me more than a dry history book just stuffed with facts. Listening to this CD Set has encouraged me to consider adding some Henty books to the girls' schoolwork for later this year.
Overall, we were impressed with the quality of the audio, and the adaptation of the story. If your children (or you) enjoy a swashbuckling good story, grab you family a copy of Under Drake's Flag today. Your next car ride can be an adventure you'll all enjoy!
Heirloom Audio Productions is working on another G.A. Henty title In Freedom's Cause, the story of Wallace and Bruce, due out later this Fall. It is currently on pre-order status, but they expect it to be available sometime in November. Maybe I'll get it for my birthday, and share it with the family.