About Heirloom Audio Productions
Heirloom Audio Productions is a company with a Christian foundation that offers high quality, epic, and memorable historical fiction radio drama about Christian heroes. It seems they put a lot of thought and heart into their offerings, attempting to not just tell a story but really bring it to life for their listeners. To this end, they research the story's details, bring in a skilled vocal cast to play out the characters roles, and complete the experience with professional level music and sound effects.
They offer a number of audio adventures, including In the Reign of Terror (which I'm reviewing here) and two others that we've reviewed in the past: The Dragon & The Raven and Beric the Briton. Plus more to which we've not yet had the pleasure of listening: The Cat of Bubastes (a story set in ancient Egypt), With Lee in Virginia (about a soldier's experience with The Confederate Army), In Freedom's Cause (about William Wallace and Scotland), and Under Drake's Flag (about Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Inquisition)... and more to come!
In addition to all of the radio dramas, Heirloom Audio Productions also offers their Live the Adventure Club, which is a website with subscription access that provides a lot of resources, activities, movie reviews, and special bonus material. (Note: at the time of writing this blog post, they are offering a 3-month trial to the Live the Adventure Club so you can check out everything they have to offer.)
Some of the bonus material we had access to included a downloadable study guide (which I'll explain more below), e-book, MP3 version, soundtrack, the official script, wallpaper, and a printable poster that sports a verse and quote from the story: "What man intends for evil, God intends for good", plus other extras.
Upon receipt of our package in the mail, we opened it right away. I noticed the great cover artwork that piques ones interest and sets the tone for the story. We put our new CDs in the van so they'd be ready to listen to next time we were on the road... but we had a hard time waiting to get started. As I've mentioned before, audio books are a big part of our lives, both homeschool and just for fun. We play them at various times and in different places, but we go through the most books while traveling to and from various activities. We listened to hours upon hours of books during our road trips too!
The study guide breaks down the story into small chunks of time and then has a page for each section. Each page consists mainly of three parts: "Listening Well" points, "Thinking Further" questions, and a "Defining Words" section, all of which are designed to help listeners and homeschool families get the most out of their experience. The "listening well" questions guide the child (and parent) through the story and bring attention to points of interest, as well as help gauge comprehension and memory of what was heard. The "thinking further" section is an opportunity to delve ever further into the time period, the characters, and/or the lessons learned from the story. They involve things like looking a place up on a map, talking about intentions or inferences, and critically examining actions or events. And the "defining words" part is essentially a vocabulary list (without definitions). I did not see the answers to the questions anywhere, so it is might be best used if the parent is also listening to the story and as a basis for discussion, but it could also be used as an assignment for older children to write their responses, if you prefer.
The beginning of the study guide has also has a paragraph about G.A. Henty (the story's author), a brief, one-page biography about Maximilien Robespierre (a key player in the French Revolution), and another page about Marie Antoinette. There are boxes throughout the guide titled "Expand Your Learning" that offer brief explanations or background and supplemental information about various topics. Near the end of the study guide, you'll find a list of references for more about the French Revolution, three pages of related Bible studies, and a two pages of "Some Historical Background for The Reign of Terror", including a simple chart comparing The War for Independence and The French Revolution. So, as you can see, this guide is a truly valuable resource for someone looking to do more with this than just listen to the story! At least, it was for us.
In the Reign of Terror is based on the book by G.A. Henty (an author born in 1832). It tells the story of Harry, a young Englishman who lived during the time of the French Revolution. He goes to work with a French noble family and while he has a rough time getting settled, he eventually becomes almost part of the family. He is treated with respect due to his displays of bravery, loyalty, and good character. However, things take a downturn as violence runs rampant and the common people in France begin to bloody and hatred-filled revolt against noblemen - putting them and their families (including children) to death simply for being guilty of holding that station and bloodline. A mob comes for the family Harry works for, so they must split up. Harry promises to help the girls and the story continues as he repeatedly goes to great lengths to protect them. In doing so, Harry finds himself accepting shelter from others, help from strangers, and even a role working for Maximilien Robespierre - someone he'd perhaps rather have killed for his role in the violence, then encountering more challenges and obstacles as they go. I don't want to reveal to much or give too many spoilers, so I'll stop here and let you listen to hear the details and find out the rest!
The website says that this story is intended for kids 6-16. In my experience, some children at the younger end of that range might not be quite ready for the references to death, violence, and hate expressed or referenced in the story. These things are all part of history and The French Revolution, of course, and are usually handled well and not in great detail in the audio drama, but it's something to consider if a younger child is more sensitive and not already aware of what happened in this revolution. Perhaps this would be a time for the parent to listen alongside the child and be open for discussion and making it a learning opportunity. Additionally, the French accent and words made the story slightly harder to follow for Lil' Sis (age 7) than other audio books we've listened to as a family. We took it as a chance to learn more about common French terms, culture, and new vocabulary. I also appreciated the more authentic sounding actors and exposure to diverse voices, instead of just one narrator reading a book to us.
We liked In the Reign of Terror. It was well worth listening to for our family and Big Sis was asking to continue listening every time we had the chance. If we were rating audio books according to our favorite, it would rank third among the three we've enjoyed from Heirloom Audio Productions, but still above many other titles from other authors and companies.
Click on the Homeschool Review Crew banner below if you'd like to read what other homeschool families think about In the Reign of Terror. You can also find more titles and other information about Heirloom Audio Productions at their website and on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and on Instagram (@HeirloomAudioOfficial).
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.