Friday, October 31, 2014

JIm Hodges Productions Audio Book Review

My latest review was just for my Middlest child. He is a young teen who enjoys audio books, so the In The Heart of the Rockies  (Story by G. A. Henty) MP3 CD by  Jim Hodges Productions seemed like it would be something right up his alley. It was one of 22 titles by G. A Henty that were reviewed by TOS Crew Members, so don't forget to check the link at the bottom of my review to read more! :) 

In the Heart of the Rockies follows a young English boy, Tom, who emigrates to the US in order to help his family. He travels west in hopes of finding his uncle Harry, and encounters many adventures along the way,  featuring interactions with both humans and nature, including hostile Indians, friendly Indians, Mountain Men, Prospectors, storms, and survival. 

As I mentioned, Middlest appreciates listening to audio books, and loves outdoorsy settings, so he was pleased with this story in particular. He found Jim Hodges to be a pleasant narrator, with distinct voices and characterizations. Although each chapter is close to a half hour in length, he didn’t get tired of listening to Mr. Hodges’ voice. He didn’t find him to be over dramatic at all, and felt that the telling of the story was just right. “In the Heart of the Rockies” runs about 11 hours all told, and is best for middle to high school ages.

“In the Heart of the Rockies” was also a natural choice for me, as I grew up north of Fort Bridger, in Montana, and have an ancestor who spent 8 months with Jim Bridger among many other adventures. I found this story to be a natural segue into talking about our family history and bringing some of that history to life even more for my son. Thankfully a “Cousin” of some degree has done a lot of research and posted it online so we were able to access documented stories of my son’s GGGG-Grandfather, rather than relying on my faulty memory of stories told by my father.

I’m including a link to a post, 
Expedition With Jim Bridger, on her blog so you can check that out if you like, as it includes photos and mentions of areas included in “The Heart of the Rockies,” although my GGGG Grandfather ended up involved in the gold rush in Montana rather than in California, so there is a departure from Henty's story geographically.

Jim Hodge has put together some PDF study guides for use with his Henty Audio books. The guide splits the book into groups of 2-3 chapters per lesson, and includes vocabulary and a variety of content questions as well as links to some interesting activities and information that go along well with the studies. There are three quizzes every three lessons that can be used if you wish to have a graded paper for this book study. The study guide is 30 pages and includes an answer key for the discussion questions and the quizzes, as well as a one page "Character" chart that is useful when discussion character qualities in any given story.

I found that my son had a harder time retaining some of the information asked for in the study guide questions, particularly when dealing with specific locations and measurements (ie rivers and their lengths), as they were often mentioned briefly or in passing. As a result I do recommend doing some of the activities found at the end of each chapter section before going through the guide, to help your child retain that information in more than auditory form. It would also be helpful to have a print version of the book available for them to reference when answering the questions.  There are many free 
Henty Kindle books available. 

If you are a lover of living books,  and have children who enjoy listening to audio books, then you might want to give Jim Hodges Productions a try.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Jim Hodges can also be found on Facebook and YouTube where he describes each available title.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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