Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review of The Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures Review
I'll admit that my kids got MP3 players early in life. I mean *really* early. To this day, though, there is no music on those players. They exist for the sole purpose of providing my kids with easy access to audiobooks and Old Time Radio (yep - that's capitalized; if you're an OTR fan, you wouldn't have it any other way!). So when the opportunity arose for us to review The Brinkman Adventures, a series of radio adventure dramas based on the lives of real missionaries, I jumped on it.

This was a series already in progress, so my kids got to begin with The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24. In these stories, the Brinkman kids interact with missionaries (whose stories are, like I said, based on true stories). Any time you throw kids into a story, you know there is going to be plenty of comic relief, and there is. I think that comic relief is what keeps these stories from being in any way preachy. They truly are stories. Jesus is there. A message is there. They don't come across as existing solely for the sake of delivering that message, though. 

These stories are contained on four CDs and come in at five hours. They are considered as being for the whole family, but I disagree about that. The very first thing my kids heard when they tuned into the first episode we received was kids talking about their mom's miscarriages and where the babies were buried. My kids were horrified and told me they didn't want to listen to anything so sad. I know there are families where miscarriages are discussed freely and perhaps this topic would not be such a big deal, but my kids (my 9 year-old twins particularly) were very upset and didn't want to continue the series until I told them to give it another chance. My twice-exceptional 10 year-old son Nicholas' comment was, "I don't even understand what they're talking about." Hence, I would say that the shows are appropriate for older children and adults, and then for younger children as parents determine.

There are 12 episodes on the CDs, each lasting about 26 minutes. The production quality is excellent. It sounds like the action is right in your own living room. The music accompanying the CDs is also excellent. Don't worry about joining the adventures in progress because you are caught up right at the beginning. The suggested donation for these CDs is $25 ($17 for the MP3 version). 

My Kids' Reaction

As I indicated, my kids did not have quite the reaction to these that I anticipated. I attribute this to two main things: first, they are used to Old Time Radio - hence, the superior production value of these CDs just didn't sound like what they are used to listening to on their MP3 players. It was very jarring to them, and I think they had a lot of trouble getting over it. Second, the way the first episode started off really did bother them, much more than I ever would have guessed. I don't know exactly why, and I don't really want to probe it. The three (9, 9, and 12) who understood it just kept saying it was too sad, and the one who couldn't seem to process it (ADHD, OCD, Tourette's Syndrome, and asynchronous giftedness - don't get me started) missed the whole point (and I wasn't about to start trying to explain miscarriage in detail to my 10 year-old if he's been blessed enough not to have to deal with it).

Having said that, there are some very exciting and relevant episodes in this set! In our history, we just talked about the appearance of Islam on the world scene and how devastating it was to Christianity. For that reason, my kids were most interested in the episode in which the missionaries were in a Muslim country. That is so relevant both to what the kids are doing in history *and* to what they hear us talking about on a nearly daily basis.

Overall, there is a lot to recommend these stories, and I suspect that most families would really like them. To read about some of the many Crew families that got to listen to them, click on the banner below. 

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