So I have one boy who doesn’t exactly love to read. Don’t get me wrong, he loves a good story, and he reads comic books and chapter books that interest him, but reading just isn’t his first choice of favorite things to do. So, I have tried to bring more literature into his life through audio dramas and books on tape. For this review, we got to listen to The Dragon and the Raven by GA Henty from Jim Hodges Productions.
This story is about the struggle between the Saxons and the Vikings in 8th and 9th century Britain. The hero of the story is Edmund, who joins King Alfred in his fight to protect Britain. Throughout the story he faces fierce battles on land and on sea. Edmund fights on the ship The Dragon, and at the siege of Paris where he faces Sweyn the Viking in single combat and rescues the girl he loves.
The entire story covers more than seven hours of listening time spread out over 19 chapters. We listened to it over a period of 4-5 days. The MP3 CD plays on computers and it played in our Playstation, but not on a regular CD player, so we couldn’t listen to it in the car, which was kind of disappointing. However, the fact that it is divided into chapters made it pretty easy to find the spot where we last left off. This story is strictly an audio book, and not an audio drama. For this reason, I got more interested in the story than my son, who enjoys the excitement of different actors and sound effects of more dramatized versions.
The story itself is very well done and easy to follow. I found that I came to care about Edmund and was sincerely interested in what happened to him. My son enjoyed all the action that took place in the battles between the Vikings and the Saxons. Since we are currently studying that time period in history, it fit into our schoolwork very well, but I could easily see using this as the basis for a unit study as well.
Jim Hodges productions also offers excellent study guides to go with the books, and this was one of the best parts for me. The study guide includes vocabulary, chapter questions, and activities for each chapter in the story, and a quiz for every five chapters. Some of the activities include internet links for further study, which my son really liked. He enjoys being able to research things that interest him on his own, and he got really excited about some of the topics. He often ended up exploring the websites that the links took him to on his own. For example, one of the websites had information about the Viking game Hnefatafl, which inspired him to try and create his own version of the game!
He also got sidetracked learning about Ragnar Lothbrock, one of his father’s favorite characters from the Vikings television show, which lead to a lot of discussion between the two! Basically, we went over the vocabulary orally before starting each chapter, and then did the questions as discussion afterwards. I did have him choose one activity for every three chapters to complete, or asked him to come up with his own research project. At the end of the study guide is a complete answer key, which I really appreciated!
On the whole, I really enjoyed listening to the Dragon and the Raven. My son was most interested in the battles, and less interested in the rest of the story. However, I think this could be a great addition to any history course if you spread it out over time and use the study guide for further exploration. The MP3 CD for this story costs $25.00, while a digital download costs $18.00. The study guide costs $12.00.
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See what other members of the crew had to say about this story and the others they got to check out here: