Heirloom Audio Productions brings history to life with audio dramas that are keep the listener engaged though fast-moving and exciting plots, excellent acting, and realistic sound effects. They've chosen the novels written during the late 1800s by master story-teller G.A. Henty as the basis for the audio dramas. With Lee In Virginia is adapted from G.A. Henty's novel of the same name, in which fifteen-year-old Vincent Wingfield joins the Army of Northern Virginia and fights alongside some of the most famous Confederate generals during the Civil War.
We received the 2-CD set of the audio book, a 52-page downloadable Study Guide and Discussion Starter, printable copies of the cast poster and a Robert E. Lee quote suitable for framing, and the With Lee In Virginia official soundtrack (MP3). Heirloom Audio Productions also provided us with a downloadable eBook of the original G.A. Henty story "With Lee In Virginia"; and we could download the MP3 of the audio drama as well. There is also a "Live The Adventure" e-newsletter with articles, activity ideas related to the audio dramas, and news from Heirloom Audio.
The CDs come in a beautiful full color case, with the center panel showing this quote from a letter by General Robert E. Lee to his son:
Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
This is one of the two main ideas throughout the story - the desire of the characters (fictional and historical) to fulfill their duties honorably, being faithful in meeting their obligations to serve and defend their country or state, to offer protection and provision for those under their care, and being trustworthy in their service to those in authority. This theme comes into play when Vincent objects to a slave being abused by a neighbor, and throughout his service in the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. Robert E. Lee wrestles with the decision of whether his first duty is to the country that he loves and has served with distinction, or to the neighbors in his home state of Virginia. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson talks about and demonstrates the ideal of fulfilling his duty, and earns the highest respect from those who serve under him. And Vincent's slave and friend, Dan, takes the duty to serve Vincent very seriously, and chooses to serve even when he didn't have to.
The other powerful theme is loving both neighbors and enemies. Again, Vincent demonstrates his desire to live out what he reads in the Bible by trying to deal justly and kindly with everyone, by offering forgiveness and kindness to the enemies he encounters, and by taking action when he is convicted by what he reads in his father's Bible condemning slavery.
In addition, the storytelling of G.A.Henty, and the masterful adaptation by the folks at Heirloom Audio combine to give a view of the Generals of the Confederate Army in a much more balanced way than they are often portrayed. Lee and Jackson were both devout Christians whose first loyalty was to God. Both men were known for their unwavering trust in God, and were highly respected by the men that served under them and by their opponents. Even when faced with defeat, General Lee had earned such respect as an honorable man that General Ulysses S. Grant of the Northern Army set aside tradition and military protocol and allowed Lee to keep his sword and horse when the south surrendered at Appamattox. General Jackson, although he was indeed a slave-owner, was also very sympathetic to the plight of enslaved blacks, and at his own risk had taught his slaves to read and had started Sunday Schools so the children of slaves could be taught the Bible.
And of course, the story itself is captivating, and brings many events surrounding the War
Between the States to life! I must say that this also makes it heart-wrenching, especially as I live very near to Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam, and listening to the portrayals of some of the battles of the war moved me to tears more than once. I think it was sensitively yet realistically done, but I would caution parents of very young or sensitive children that the sounds of battle, of wounded and dying men, and harsh treatment of slaves may be too much. On one occasion, I played the second CD while driving with my two sons (ages 20 and 16) in the car with me, and although they hadn't chosen to hear the story, they both listened with rapt attention.
And a few words about the Study Guide... first, it is beautiful!! I didn't print it because it's in full color, well, sepia I guess would be more accurate, so it would have taken a lot of ink and my little home printer wouldn't have done it justice. It provides brief biographies of G.A. Henty, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Jackson; a map of the states at the time of the war showing the route that Vincent travels through the course of the story; and has comprehension questions for each chapter of the story. There are two types of questions - Listening Well questions that ask what you heard and remembered from the chapter; and Thinking Well questions that ask you to to think more deeply about what happened in the story or perhaps research a bit further or draw conclusions. There are also Definitions for each chapter that help students learn words which may be unfamiliar. The Guide also offers two Bible studies, and some background information on what the Bible has to say about slavery; as well as some historical information on Sectionalism. Historic photos and illustrations appear on most of the pages, so this Guide is perfect for doing a Civil War Unit Study.
|Yes, Kennady needed to print the cast poster!|
What we liked best:
- outstanding production, with a cast that makes every character believable
- an exciting and compelling story
- high quality, informative Study Guide
- the strong faith and high moral character of Robert E. Lee - and of the fictional character Vincent - are highlighted in an inspiring way.
- this is a story of the Civil War, and the battles and hospitals and prisons were often anything but civil. The intensity of battle scenes and other events in which violence or pain is portrayed may be too realistic for young or particularly sensitive children.
- remember that this is not simply a narration of the G.A. Henty book of the same name, but is a dramatic adaptation.
Our bottom line: Heirloom Audio Productions has scored another winner in With Lee In Virginia! Once again, we were transported to another time and were inspired and challenged by the courage and faith of historic figures; and were greatly entertained by incredible storytelling. I don't know what Extraordinary Adventure Heirloom Audio might be working on next, but we hope there are many more adventures to come! Be sure to also check out our full review of In Freedom's Cause for the Schoolhouse Review Crew: An Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish History.
Would your family like to be part of this extraordinary adventure? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://www.WithLeeinVirginia.com/
Pricing: See the Heirloom Audio website for purchasing options and full pricing information.
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.
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