If there's one thing that my kids get super excited about, it's a new audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions! We were thrilled to receive a review copy of Captain Bayley's Heir. We popped the discs in right away to listen to this old west adventure. We also received access to the new Live the Adventure Club website, which opened up a whole new world of ways to interact with the story!
If you haven't heard of Heirloom Audio Productions before, let me take a minute to introduce you to them. They take G.A. Henty stories, which are full of history, excitement, and character building lessons, and turn them into action packed audio dramas. If you know what radio theater is, imagine that... but updated with the technology and actors of today. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to get kids and adults excited about learning history. G.A. Henty can be hard to read, but these dramas retell the story and bring it to life, and have encouraged my kids to read more of his books. I love that last bit SO much.
Captain Bayley's Heir is the latest audio theater available. The story is about the Gold Rush. Frank is wrongly accused of theft while attending Westminster. He is very close to his cousin. Frank worries that he will be expelled from school so he decides, with encouragement from his cousin, to run away to America and leave his family and friends behind. Once he gets to America he joins a caravan, makes new friends, and begins traveling west. They get attacked by Native Americans, see buffalo (bison), and Frank learns that God's grace will help you through troubles.
Once they get to the west they begin searching for gold. They help a person who is living near them... the father is sick because he has worked so hard he's nearly starved himself, and his son is hungry too but keeps searching. They help the father get better. The father tells them about a dream during which he locates a large amount of gold. Frank and his friends make a deal with this man that they will help him stake his claim and be paid their normal pay, as long as they can use his shaft to stake their claim afterwards. The dream comes true, and everyone finds a lot of gold! When the father and his son leave to return to England, Frank sends a message to his family with them. Frank keeps prospecting. He encounters some men robbing a stagecoach and gets injured, but foils the robbery. While he is recovering in the hospital, some of his family from England, who have been searching for him, find him!
They all go back to England and conduct an investigation to find the thief. Frank is called the headmaster's office because they had found the thief, who turns out to be Frank's own cousin. Frank is forgiven and welcomed back to the school. He seems to further his relationship with a girl who he was sad to leave behind earlier in the story. Through all of this, he learns to choose friends wisely, and that God's grace can help you through all of your trials.
Live the Adventure Club website!
We have reviewed Heirloom Audio Productions stories before. Here are some links to my previous reviews:
Just like our previous reviews, Captain Bayley's Heir came with some extra downloads, but these are now available only through the Live the Adventure Club.
- MP3 download of the audio adventure
- E-book - G.A. Henty's story with full color pages
- Cast poster - Like a movie poster, it shows all the actors you'll hear
- Soundtrack - The background music, composed by John Campbell, that you hear in the story
- Hymn poster - Printable poster of a hymn quote from the story, "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound..."
- Wallpaper - This one is new.. a desktop wallpaper of the story's cover graphic
- Study Guide and Discussion Starter - 40 pages of questions, guides, and more to help you turn the story into a curriculum
The Study Guide has a page for each chapter on the CD. There are three sections to each page. Listening Well asks questions about the story to help ensure that you and your children understand what you listened to. Thinking Further asks more questions, but these are often more abstract. They are good at encouraging older kids to think a little more deeply about what is happening and why. The third section is Defining Words. You can have children look up the definition for words they don't know, or you could use them as spelling or vocabulary words!
The Study Guide also has little tidbits throughout the file that add interesting bits of information, such as what a shilling is, important people during the Gold Rush, bits of info about Mining Camps, and a list of suggested books. There are also Bible Study quizzes, on the topics of God's Grace, Honoring Parents, and Becoming a Christian. These quizzes encourage children to look up scriptures and find which one fits a given statement. As Latter-day Saints, these are good starting points for discussion, but if I were to have my children do these quizzes, well, there are a lot of opportunities for teaching.
The Live the Adventure Club takes the Study Guide and puts it online in an interactive format! The Listening Well section is turned into an online quiz. My son wanted me to make sure you knew that he knew the correct answer to the question below, but I made him answer one wrong to show you that the website scores the quizzes for you.
The Thinking Further questions are listed on the screen, so you can discuss them with your children.
The Defining Words have neat little pop-up definitions when you hover over them. My kids thought they were fun to look at, and hopefully they learned a few new words!
With the Live the Adventure Club, you can also listen to the story and soundtrack online. It even tracks your progress through the story. I love having an option that avoids CDs getting lost or scratched! We were quite impressed with the new Read-Along feature, as you listen online you can see the script. There is even an option to highlight what is said to help young readers!
Other items on the Live the Adventure Club are an Old Time Radio Vault where you can listen to old radio theater stories, find more educational tools, children's activities such as coloring pages and word searches (this can be done online or printed), a forum to chat with other adventurers, and more!
When I asked what my kids thought of Captain Bayley's Heir, I heard "Awesome!" and "probably my favorite G.A. Henty book" and "the story is well written and people today can learn they don't need to run away from their problems." My kids are really impressed with the new website and how interactive it is. They like the quizzes and streaming options, and they enjoyed the Old Time Radio Vault. Thanks Heirloom Audio Productions, many thumbs up from our family!!