Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Our family absolutely LOVES audio dramas. We have collections of various CD sets in the house, in the car, in the kids' rooms.....You get the idea. They are almost always listening to something while they work, or while we travel in the car. I feel that audio dramas are healthier than TV, so we have always made it a priority to have interesting ones available. What is even better is when the listening material teaches or encourages the children in their walk with the Lord. While we already own CD sets that teach about science, history, Bible stories, and character virtues, when we received The Brinkman Adventures it was our first set to emphasize Christian missions. For review, we received the brand new CD set The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24. 

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2 is a 4 CD set that contains 12 episodes, for a total of about 5 hours of listening. While some of the episodes do build on each other, each one is also a self-contained story with it's own theme. Also included are musical sound effects, as well as realistic sounds that enhance the story. The story itself is told by the Brinkman family, a family in the ministry of encouraging and helping missionaries around the world. Because they are a large family (8 children!) there are many funny little side stories and very realistic scenes written into the plots.

Each of the stories, while using fictional names, are based on real life missionary stories. Some of the topics touched on include witnessing in Muslim countries, Bible smuggling, rescuing children in slave trades, and searching for Mayan treasures. All the while, listeners are experiencing a fun family atmosphere and learning about new topics. There is so much information incorporated into the stories - everything from famous people, character building, geography, vocabulary, and historical facts. I was amazed at how much information and excitement was packed into each story! There is even an episode that teaches what an "Epi-pen" is used for, when the dad has an allergic reaction to bee stings! (Being an allergy family, that caught my attention!) Stories take place all over the world: China, Mexico, Belize, and even a fictitious middle Eastern country called Bazakistan!

The children in the stories are very relatable, and I enjoy having my children listen to a family story where the children are treating each other with kindness and respect. Those are subtle little life lessons that are picked up along the way.

On the website, the producer discusses his burden to make missions come alive for children and families, and I believe he has definitely accomplished this goal.

Website extras: Because the stories do not use real names and places, but are based on true stories, there are "stories behind the stories" on the website, complete with short videos. My children have already looked into these, and enjoyed them greatly. There are also "behind the scenes" videos that show the CD's being produced, which are very fun to watch. 

Recommended Ages: While some of the missionary stories can get pretty intense, I think that parents could listen and decide whether their children are mature enough to handle the stories and plots. There was nothing inappropriate in the stories. Some of them do depict some real life danger and violence, but they recommend that children under 10 listen to them with mom and dad. All my children listened to them (ages 8+) and none were afraid of the stories or their outcomes.

Our favorite adventure: I think it definitely had to be the story of a family serving in the Middle East, who gave a Bible to a Muslim friend, then barely escaped the country. We also enjoyed the couple who stayed up all night to assemble a Bible for an underground believer in China. My children were so touched that someone in the world would have such a longing for a Bible. In America, we take our Bibles for granted so easily.

My recommendation: I enthusiastically recommend these audio drama sets to every Christian family who would like to inspire a love for the Lord, for winning souls, and for missions in the hearts of their children. I can easily see how The Brinkman Adventures will become one of my children's favorite things to listen to. I have listened to them several times myself, and enjoy them each time. I plan on purchasing Season 1, and I have a feeling that this is going to end up as one of my favorite review items this year from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I am also considering purchasing a set for Christmas gifts for some friends.

What does it cost? The Brinkman Adventures operates on a "suggested donation" basis.  The suggested donation for Episode 2 is $25 with free shipping. There is also an option to purchase a downloadable MP3 album for $17.

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