Patrick Henry - Quest for FreedomEveryone remembers sitting through history class as a child. And as adults, perhaps now we’re reliving our educational past as our children attend classes. Rob Mercer and John Derrick, co-founders of American Animation Studios, realized when their children were in school that there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to finding entertaining and educational videos on American history. So, they set out to make their own.

Patrick Henry – Quest for Freedom is the first title in their upcoming History’s Heroes series. Focusing on the story behind Patrick Henry’s infamous quote “Give me liberty or give me death!” the 35 minute animated video makes use of historical information, CGI technology, and a little humor to present a classic story from American history to kids in an imaginative way.

Guiding the way through the story is History’s Heroes’ mascot: Boomer, a quirky American eagle. Boomer serves both as narrator and as a friendly face children can look to for sight gags, puns, and tidbits of information. Whether he’s giving the definition of “hyperbole” or disguising himself as a human to sneak into the courtroom, Boomer is the kind of character kid’s shows are famous for: a distinctive, affable personality that helps provide a throughline to a story that might otherwise grow tiresome or dramatic to racing young minds.

The story of Patrick Henry, as presented on this DVD, is an inspiring, though brief, story of a young boy with strong convictions who grows to be a powerful orator and a determined adult. Weaving its way through brief encounters with childhood fighting (“Words can often be just as effective as violence.”), meeting Thomas Jefferson, and being granted his lawyer’s license, the first 25 minutes help build a simple frame of reference for children to place Patrick Henry’s infamous courtroom speech around. When the speech does finally play out, even Boomer manages to keep quiet (aside from the occasional explanation of difficult concepts and phrases) as Henry delivers a masterful oration on American rights and freedom from British rule.

Though the story can feel a bit heavy-handed at times – the head British soldier is a hulking monster with a scarred eye who steals apples from old market owners – it still manages to be remarkably informational while maintaining a solid recreational sense rather than a typical classroom feel. When at last those seven infamous words are spoken, it does feel as if an instructive journey has been made. Patrick Henry – Quest for Freedom walks a fine line between goofy children’s cartoon and educational video, and it walks it well. Both sides are well-served, and the engaging result appears to be a clearly effective educational tool.

The DVD also features a behind-the-scenes look at how the video was made, including interviews with the co-founders, editors, animators, riggers, and even school teachers who have used the video. This extra ten minute video is helpful in reminding viewers how much work goes into the product, but is really only for educators or parents interested in learning more about the company itself and their animating techniques.

Zach’s Rating: B
4th Grade History teacher’s rating: B+
King George’s rating: D-

For interactive games, historical facts, and more information on History’s Heroes, visit their homepage
To purchase Patrick Henry – Quest for Freedom, visit the store

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