As part of the Schoolhouse Crew Review team, I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts upon Heirloom Audio Productions latest audio theatrical drama adapted from a book, by G.A. Henty. This particular tale presents the history of the civil war with focus on Confederate generals Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee. With Lee in Virginia includes a physical 2 CD set, a digital download study guide, MP3 soundtrack, and a few other things. The package has everything one would need to delve deeply into this portion of American history in a fun, adventurous, and memorable way.
-Details & Information-
What was Received- The physical cd set arrived packaged well and included information on how to download all extras that comes with the package. The CD copy features a tri-fold case with a disc on each side and a popular quote from Robert E. Lee found in a letter to his son at the center. There’s a insert seated in the middle that has information about Heirloom Audio Productions and also short bios on each of those that lent their voice to this project. Many of the cast members are well known and include stars such as Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Goonies, and Rudy star), Kirk Cameron (Left Behind, Fireproof, etc), Brian Blessed (Star Wars Episode 1; The Phantom Menac, Alexander, etc) ), Chris Anthony & Kelsey Lansdowne (Adventures in Odyssey), and more.
Downloading – The additional digital content is located easily on the website. The time it spent to download will vary and depend on ones personal connection speed. Please be aware that these are very large files. Once completed, I found each file to load loaded quickly once saved to my Windows computer. To load these you’ll need to make sure you have a program that can open PDF files and a separate program for the MP3 format files. All of the bonus content can be loaded on a computer as well as a tablet!
Study Guide – The complete With Lee in Virginia eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter offers a vast amount of information to use during lessons on history as well as for Bible study! The Bible studies focus on the Biblical themes tied into the story such as loving your enemy, duty ( our responsibility toward God), trust, and so forth. There’s history on three remarkable men at the beginning pages of the guide and a map to give one a visual of where the cities and battlefields mentioned in the story can be found.
The guide as a whole is easy to use. It’s split up into three sections for specific breaking points found in the audio drama. The first section is Listening Well which features questions pertaining to the happenings of the story. We want to make sure children are comprehending what’s going on before moving ahead. The second section is Thinking Further which challenges one to come up with their own thoughts about what is going on. This section also encourages students to further their studies with research and projects pertaining to the story. Defining Words is the last section which list words used in the drama to grow ones vocabulary!
The Soundtrack – The score by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell, is fantastic. It is very fitting to the time and era in which the story takes place. There are 38 tracks total each varying in length. The complete playtime of an hour and twenty nine minutes. It’s great background during our history lessons and I feel it could get great use in our own American history interpretations and reenactments.
In Listening – The total listening time of this adventure is two hours and a half. It’s pace goes steadily from start to finish, nothing at all felt rushed. Age recommendations are for children six years old and up and well suited for the entire family. In sticking to the true events to the time ( the battles, tragedy, harshness of some people, how some slaves were treated, etc) this story does have moments that could present frightening to some children. Please keep that in mind and use your best judgment before allowing them to listen.
– Our Thoughts –
My Take & the Kids Reactions – With Lee in Virginia is an amazing adventure. This story follows a young lad whom joins the confederate army and crosses paths with famous confederate generals during the Civil War between the North and the South. Even though part of the story is fictional, we learn about actual events and witness the true character of these men whom have dedicated their lives and duty to God.
This story sheds light on more than one important part of America’s history. There are times of joy, hardships, heroics, and the ugliness of slavery but also loyalty through it all. This story most certainly is a conversation starter. The study guide used along side proves very valuable.
My children are 7 and 4 years old. They got the privilege of listening to With Lee in Virginia in a long car ride to and from the Oregon Coast. There was almost complete silence as they listened. They are beginning to understand more about the world around them in how things used to be and how they currently are now. My daughter had a lot questions after listening pertaining to prayer, losing battles, and slavery.
There were moments of tears, laughing out loud, and being completely on our seats to see what was going to happen next! I like that through this production, my children are not only learning about History but also growing in character and in their faith in God.
Blurb from Dad – One of the first things I noticed, as a fan of audio productions, was the foley artistry. Any sound I heard was recognizable and I knew what actions were going on. And never was there a moment of zany lines that try to describe a scene using speech no one would ever say.
The voices were clear and timing was great.
The production quality of this audio drama is top notch.
As for the story, it clearly gives a lot of the history, and teaches the reasons for the war. It also speaks to the realities of war without going into details, but at the same time they don’t skirt around issues. They just deal with them politely.
Overall, I would recommend With Lee in Virginia. There’s nothing I don’t like about it! I feel it’s a wonderful way to learn about American History and great heroes of old. Children need great stories such as this to be inspired by!
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