Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wulf the Saxon ~ Audio Henty Review

Scene 51 from the Bayeux Tapestry ~ Battle of Hastings ~ Norman Knights and Archers

1066 - Battle of Hastings. If you study history at all, you know this was a pivotal moment in English history that changed the dynamic of England forever. As a homeschool teacher, I know this, but how do I convey the importance of this battle and this time period to my children? How do I make it come alive? Historical fiction is my favorite way to do this. The MP3 audio recording and PDF study guide for Wulf the Saxon: A Story of the Norman Conquest, by G.A. Henty, is an excellent way to bring to life, not only this battle, but the whole world of Saxon England. Jim Hodges Productions does an excellent job with this Henty story for children ages 10 and up.

Wulf the Saxon, is the main fictional character in a sea of non-fictional ones. He is a thane (the title of landed gentry in Anglo-Saxon England) and has pledged his service to Earl Harold. The story revolves around the choices Harold makes through various battles, and the choices Wulf must make in response. Will he retain his honor? Will they make it through all the battles? You'll have to listen to find out!

Who was G. A. Henty?

Born in 1832, George Alfred Henty was an indefatigable historical fiction author and war correspondent. During his time as a war correspondent, his letters home contained battle descriptions that so moved his father he submitted them for publication. His 122 historical fiction stories were born from his deep understanding of the hardships of war life he witnessed, an appreciation for the actual history behind a story or time period, and his love of storytelling to his own children. His stories display both honorable and dishonorable characters and the lines are clearly drawn. He obviously valued virtue, integrity, and upheld the idea of a character's duty. His are stories worth reading amid today's sea of questionable ethics and immoral choices on the shelves in the bookstore.

Wulf the Saxon Study Guide

This PDF guide is not your normal study guide. This is an astonishing wealth of information packed into 66 pages! With both questions (and answers for the teacher - thank you!), Jim Hodges has covered anything you'd probably want to discuss with your children. An extensive list of vocabulary words from each chapter are included that your student is asked to define. In Chapter 1 alone, there are 47 words. Some of these are: edifice, insolent, begrimed, indomitable, sojourn, and housecarls. I like that Hodges mixes in words we'd use today and words that are time-period specific, but are still important to understanding the story. There are discussion questions that often have a geography or character trait focus as well as hands-on activities or research opportunities. Some have external links to internet resources as well. Two examples of discussion questions your child might answer are:

1. Where is Rouen located and what makes it historic?
2. Osgod is more concerned with food than with withstanding the storm or being dashed on the rocks. What negative character trait does he display and what is the opposite character trait?

I like that you can use the discussion questions in a variety of ways. Use them for oral or written discussion, as writing prompts, or as comprehension exercises. $12.00 is a small price to pay for such a valuable resource.

Why MP3 audio from Jim Hodges Productions?

MP3 is such a flexible content delivery method! It plays on computers, portable MP3 players (like one's iPod), MP3 CD players, and in many vehicles. It is possible to rip the stories to one's computer from the disk and then to transfer it to a portable MP3 player. Wulf the Saxon is fully 12 hours and 35 minutes long. That would be a huge case of CDs! Instead, we can access the full story on one sturdy $25 CD. Jim Hodges Productions also offers a digital download for only $18.

Do they have other titles?

Do they ever! Jim Hodges Productions offers a large assortment of other Henty titles, but also a vast array of many great audio stories

My children listened to Wulf the Saxon while falling asleep. I can't say I recommend that you do that *IF* falling asleep is a priority for you. I'd hear the story going on until late into the night and hear them quietly chattering about it. I highly recommend you check these wonderful Henty stories out though--even if your children get a little less sleep!

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michelle said...

Loved your review, Kate! It is really well done and you brought up great points that I didn't even think about sharing. Nothing like reading a leader's review to show us how it's done! :)

Kate said...

Thanks, Michelle!

You are very sweet. :)


Charlotte said...

Finally got around to reading this! Loved your review. You gave lots of great info and I can tell you loved it!


Kate said...

Thanks, Charlotte!

:+) Kate