When I think of the American Revolution, the only viewpoint I can relate to is the one of the American colonists who fought for their independence from England. But the MP3 of True To the Old Flag, written by G.A. Henty and narrated by Jim Hodges, gives an entirely different viewpoint--that of a young Loyalist from Boston named Harold Wilson.
The story is set in America during the years of 1776-1781, and the "old flag' referred to in the title of the book is the Union Jack of Britain. The main character, Harold Wilson, leaves the American frontier to return east to help his fellow Loyalists fight against the rebellious colonists who are determined to separate themselves from England's rule.
The story chronicles Harold's many adventures along the way including rescuing several young girls from Indians. As always, Harold's character is true to G.A. Henty style and exhibits virtue, heroism, courage, and wisdom. Obviously, however, Harold is on the losing side and in the end flees to Canada where he does indeed remain "true to the old flag."
My eleven-year-old son, a huge Henty fan, was quite disappointed with this story--not because of poor plotting or bad writing, but simply because of the Loyalist viewpoint!
As Americans, we have always been proud of our country's history, so it's hard to feel sympathetic towards a Loyalist protagonist! But I discovered the following "description" of the book on Mr. Hodges's website and found it to be an interesting insight on the "viewpoint" issue:
"The Battles of Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, The Declaration of Independence, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Saratoga, and the final surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown--these are the scenes that stir the soul of many an American. But to an Englishman, they do no such thing. This Henty novel retells these stirring tales, but from a different perspective, helping listeners learn how the other side viewed this miraculous triumph of freedom that inspires millions throughout the world still today."
In any case, Henty's writing is excellent and the events in the story are fast paced and exciting. A great read, or in this case, a great audio!
Jim Hodges has done an excellent job of bringing Henty's book to life. He has a clear and pleasant voice, and I really like the way he uses expression and vocal inflections to emphasize each character's dialogue. But these inflections are subtle and not distracting or irritating, as some can be when narrators change between the voices of the characters. And although there are no background effects or music, none are needed.
The story flows along at a comfortable pace, and the listener is immediately drawn into the story. The recording is professional sounding and of high quality. Mr. Hodges is a first-rate storyteller--not to mention an excellent judge of fine literature that is worthy enough to be forever captured on audio. A living book in living sound! Well done!
The MP3 recording is unabridged and lasts ten hours. However, the disc will only
play on a computer CD drive, a DVD player, or an MP3 compatible CD player. It
will NOT play on a standard CD player. The cost of the MP3 (on his website) is
$25.00, and I think the product is well worth the money. You can also download
the first chapter as a freebie, which is a nice option.
I want to get more of Mr. Hodges' recordings to add to our homeschool audio collection, especially since we want to foster good listening skills as part of our children's education. And I think that having the child follow along in the book as he/she listens to the audio is also a valuable idea! My son will often listen to a book on tape during quiet time, and G.A. Henty books are always at the top of his list!
For more information about Mr. Hodges, his available recordings, articles, links, frequently asked questions, and even more about G.A. Henty, you can visit Jim's website at www.jimhodgesaudiobooks.com. This MP3 recording of True to the Old Flag is definitely a "keeper" in this homeschool, and I highly recommend this audio resource to other homeschoolers--especially those who have a love of history, fine literature, and great storytelling. You won't be disappointed!