Thursday, August 3, 2017

Gathering Around our Twenty First Century Radio

I have made no secret about my love of audiobooks, and recently, I have new five and seven year old converts who are now just as obsessed. When I was given the option to review an "audio production" about the French Revolution, I assumed it would be similar, and since my seven year old just finished a French History unit, it seemed like a good fit. So we've been listening to the newest radio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions called In the Reign of Terror!

In the Reign of Terror

First of all - wow. I've always said that the voice actor is critical to the success of an audiobook. If the voice isn't interesting or a good fit, it can ruin a good story. And there are some amazing voiceover readers out there. But this isn't one or two readers telling a story, as I assumed. This is a full on audio production, with actors that are so talented that you truly believe you are "seeing" this drama unfold. It is captivating. For me, it helped me understand how a family could gather around a radio, completely enthralled in the story.

Heirloom Audio Productions

In the Reign of Terror is the story of the French Revolution full of rich detail. The story begins in Arlington National Cemetary with a man named Harry visiting the grave of a relative.  As he does so, he muses on the French Revolution and compares it to the American Revolution.  Another character, Mr. George, chimes in and offers to tell a story to explain how different they truly were.  And with that, we are in the story.

The story begins with a British boy by the name of Harry who is headed to France to live under the care of an aristocratic family who is looking for a friend and tutor for their son.  As Harry becomes a like a member of their family, the French Revolution takes hold and the aristocracy of France is put under intense persecution.  Money and belongings are seized.  People are sentenced to death for seemingly vague reasons.  It is a frenzy.  Harry vows to protect the children of the family who has “adopted” him with his own life and he does just that, through good fortune, getting into Robespierre's office as a secretary and manipulating situations to save those who are not guilty of anything except their class.

I loved the perspective given in this story.  Instead of focusing on the events from the peasant’s view point, as most stories about the French Revolution do, here instead we focus on how things happened from the aristocracies' point of view. Harry is an admirer of those who fought for freedom in the American Revolution, but soon realizes the French revolutionaries — as noble as their dreams for fair treatment for all citizens regardless of class is — are on the warpath and sentence aristocratic men, women, and children to death without fair trials. Guilty convictions based solely on their class, they defy the very ideal that started the revolution.

I was completely wrapped up in the story, as was my seven year old (the five year old wandered in and out). I was bothered by much of the situations, but neither of my girls were. I've addressed this concept before - my girls can listen to stories, but watching the movie adaption scares them (Roald Dahl books, Harry Potter, etc). I've read articles that suggest that because books cause the reader to create their own images, their brains, working with the description and the only experiences they have to draw from, are able to handle it on their own, while a movie image, "forced" on them, can be terrifying. At any rate, it was true in this case. I was more bothered than they were.

Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio has introduced something new called Live the Adventure Club, and we were able to explore it!  This is a complete online community with a lot of great resources.  It is from within this website that you can download a study guide of materials to help you and your family get the most out of this audio drama There are great lists of questions to help you discuss each chapter of the audio adventure with your children. Some of these questions are called “listening well” questions to help you gauge how much of the fast action your family is following and remembering.  The other questions are “Thinking Further” questions and these dive into historical events and encouraging the family to apply common themes from the story to one’s own life. This is not just a simple list of comprehension questions. It adds so much richness and turns an audiobook into a full unit study. There is so much "bonus", that I can't imagine not having it.

Overall, I am not exaggerating when I call this a masterpiece. It's taken active listening to an entirely new level in our house!

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Real Time Web Analytics