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Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades Review by Kendra Fletcher

G. A. Henty
Jim Hodges Audio Books
629 Admiral Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
1 (405) 808-9758

(This review is similar in content to the review of By Right of Conquest: With Cortez in Mexico, another audio recording by Jim Hodges Productions.)

Many home educators have discovered the delight of the G. A. Henty novel. During the nineteenth century, Henty wrote 99 historical fiction works covering events from the fall of Jerusalem to the American Civil War. Because of his adventurous style and factual detail, boys in particular are drawn to Henty's books. We moms of boys are quite happy to find even our reluctant readers engaged in a Henty book for days on end. And of course girls love them, too.

Now that I've given Henty an enthusiastic thumbs-up, you'd think I'd be working through all 99 titles with my children, wouldn't you? But the truth is, I don't really love to read Henty aloud. Maybe it's because I have read so many "boyish" books (my first three are boys) and am ready for something sweet and "girly." I can't really put my finger on why I don't love to read his books aloud, but I have been relieved to find that several production companies have recorded some of Henty's most popular novels.

One such company is Jim Hodges Productions. Mr. Hodges is an avid historian, a book lover, a dedicated Christian, an award-winning actor, and a homeschooling father of three. His unabridged recording of Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades is well executed. His pronunciations are clear, and his dramatization appropriate and engaging.

Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades covers the exciting time period of King Richard the Lionhearted. Cuthbert de Lance, the hero of the story, is of Norman blood on his father's side and Saxon on his mother's. Having provided timely aid to the Earl of Evesham, Cuthbert is rewarded by being allowed to go on a Crusade as the earl's page. He gains a reputation for valor and prowess, and his resourcefulness proves useful in many a narrow escape. My boys are 13, 11, and 8, and all of them loved the cliffhangers and adventure in Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades.

All of Hodges's recordings of the Henty novels are solely in cassette or MP3 format rather than CD. Mr. Hodges chose to do so because the cost of producing MP3s was far more economical, meaning that he could make his recordings accessible to most homeschooling families. The MP3 discs retail at $25, and the cassette version is available for $35. As you may already know, the MP3 discs can be played on your computer, your DVD player, or a CD player that is MP3 compatible. You can also copy the files from the disc to your computer hard drive and download them onto an MP3 player, iPOD, or PDA.

All of the recordings are unabridged. Mr. Hodges recommends them for children eight and older. Although the occasional younger child might be able to follow these recordings, older children will better be able to follow and understand the historical story lines.

It's good to take advantage of the wonderful resources available to homeschoolers, and Mr. Hodges's recordings are definitely in the league of products worth owning.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2006