What is it?
Under Drake’s Flag is a 2 hour audio drama adapted from the book Under Drake’s Flag by G.A. Henty. It is a historical adventure with strong moral values and is set in the 1500’s at the height of Sir Francis Drake’s exploration. Written by a Christian author, Scripture and prayer are imbedded in the characters’ speech and woven through the story. The hero of a dramatic sea rescue, Ned Hackshaw is awarded a spot on Francis Drake’s ship, where he meets a ship boy name Gerald. The two have adventures fighting off sharks, surviving a shipwreck, battling the Spanish, and risking the Spanish Inquisition. The underlying theme is that faith in God can cast out all fear. Ned grows to be a reliable and trustworthy man as he learns to put others before himself and to face his fears through the influence of Francis Drake.
This audio drama was recorded in London and features a cast of stellar actors, state-of-the art sound design, and a stunning music score composed by John Campbell. While you can listen to Under Drake’s Flag as a family, there are some intense parts, so make sure you are present with your younger kids. Heirloom productions recommends it for ages 6 and up. Under Drake’s Flag is available as an instant download for $20.00 or a 2 disc CD set for $29.95. Both versions come with a 30 page study guide and discussion starter as well as a copy of Sir Francis Drake’s prayer. The 2 disc CD set also comes with a bonus copy of the instant download plus the mp3 soundtrack from the audio drama. We received the physical CD set and the 30 page study guide download.
How Did We Use It?
We listened to the CDs in the car. My son, daughter and I were enraptured by the drama. It took a little while to get used to the British accents. Also, the volume for sound effects that occur while characters are speaking is sometimes too high, making it hard to understand the characters. Nevertheless, we have now listened to the story 4 times during various trips this summer. J-jo, my 5 year old, loves the story best and is the one that repeatedly asks for it again. He also asks to stay in the car to listen to more if we haven’t gotten to the end when we arrive at our destination. We started the discussion guide and managed to use it for the first three chapters, but because we have been listening to the audio drama in the car mostly while I have been driving, it just hasn’t been conducive to using it. It’s a great study guide though and would make for a great historical/literary unit study.
The physical CD also comes with a short study guide, but the 30 page guide is more thorough. Here is a comparison. They both have listening well (comprehension) questions, thinking further questions, and vocabulary words to look up, but the printable guide has more depth, more words, more questions. I enjoyed having the Thinking Further questions to help start discussions with my kids and the Listening Well questions were very useful to assess just how well the 5 year old was following along.
One thing I did not like about the 30 page printable study and discussion guide is that it is in full color. While that makes the guide beautiful when viewed on the computer or iPad, the colored background takes up a lot of ink. I chose not to print mine because of that. I think if there were a black and white version for easy printing it would be much better.
What Did We Think of It?
The children loved it. My husband and I enjoyed it as well. As I already mentioned, we’ve heard the story 4 times now and J-jo still asks me to put it on in the car. Because some parts were hard to understand in our first run through due to accents and overly loud sound effects, by listening to the story multiple times we have picked up things we had previously missed.
What we found most impressive was how the sound effects and the music pull you into the story so much, it makes you want to keep listening. Kind of like a great movie, but without the images:)
One little thing: This book is set during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition involved demanding that people accept the Catholic faith or die. This means that the Catholic Spanish are the bad guys in this audio drama. This led to a great discussion with the children about the fallen state of man and how, unfortunately, some use religion as a cover to do some pretty terrible things even today.
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