Cragbridge Hall, Book 1: The Inventor's Secret
by Chad Morris
Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don't read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn't around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world.
Twins Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather's inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins must follow a mysterious trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall.
Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather's greatest secret — a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.
“A fantastical futuristic read that should engage kids and families.” — Brandon Mull
By Heather, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I heard of this book the week I recived it from my elementary aged children who had a visit form the author, Chad Morris at their school. They were so entertained and excited about his presentation that they tried to wrangle the book away from me and I've been in a hurry to finish it ever since so they can have their turn! It's always a good sign when they get book envy.
Chad spends a lot of time weaving obscure and not so obscure elements of history into his storyline which takes place at a prestigious school for brilliant students of the future. The two main heroes are brother and sister team Abby and Derick who are on a mission to find out what happened to their grandfather, the schools founder as well as their parents....before it is too late. There is plenty of adventure packed into the quest to find clues. The team and their peers are allowed to use "the Bridge" which takes allows them to see history come to life and feel it as it is happening. Readers get sucked right along with them into scenes as horrifying as a bear attack and as thrilling as a slave escape.
I really loved the characters and my ability to relate to them. It is truly middle grade perfect. Everyone knows the annoying best girl friend who is vying for the attention of your brother, the mean girl who is trying to turn her clique of friends against you, and the teachers who you can't tell are on your side or not. The main voice, Abby is good just the way she is and is not perfect or fatally flawed.
My children are going to eat this one up and I am pleased to pass it on to them as it is clean and not overly violent. Well done Chad Morris for keeping me and my family fascinated with the past and the future
By Mindy, Submitted on 2015-02-25
5 out of 5 stars. Oh my goodness, where do I start? I loved everything about this book. Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret is one of the biggest reasons I love reading and reviewing middle grade. It is one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Everything about this book is so exciting and fun. It is a non-stop thrill ride. You will not be able to stop reading until you are finished. My favorite thing about The Inventor's Secret was The Bridge. To be able to see events from history unfold before your eyes, but be amazing. There is another great message in this book about facing your fears, and being brave. Abby is faced with many obstacles when she arrives at school. She already feels that she shouldn't be there. She feels out of place for not being magnificent at something, like her super genius brother Derick. Her grandpa gives her some advice before school starts.
"Grandpa slammed the bottom of his cane onto the floor. "Abigail Cragbridge, you are just as good as, if not better tan, every other student in that academy.
When they said "no", I had to prevent them from making a terrible mistake. you'll be one of the best things that every happened to that place."
"You don't have to--"
"I'm completely serious," Grandpa interrupted. He grabbed Abby's face by the chin. "You have heart, Abby." page 7
Abby learns right away that she is not "welcome" because others think she got in to Cragbridge because her grandfather made it so. She finds a friend, Carol, who accepts her for who she is. By the way, Carol ends up being one of my favorite characters. This book has humor, heart, and is tons of fun. I recommend it anyone who loves a great adventure.
By K, Submitted on 2015-02-25
Rookie author, Chad Morris, has written a new book, The Inventor's Secret, which will surely appeal to the Tweens in your life. My twelve-year-old son, an avid fantasy reader, was hooked from the beginning. We had planned on reading it together (do we ever really out-grow a great read aloud?), but the day after it arrived in the mail, he was already half way finished! It didn't take me long to follow suit. I love the family values woven throughout the story, and I LOVE the way history is presented at Cragbridge Hall! I won't give anything away, but we were so taken with one of the historical events, we had to "explore" it a little more on our own.
By Monica, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I loved this book! I loved the creativity and imagination that weaved together a fun and engaging storyline with historical events. The character development was very good, and I really liked the characters, especially Derick, Abby and Carol. I loved that Abby was a strong female character. She didn't think of herself as brave or intelligent, but she ended up working hard and didn't give up, and she accomplished some great things. I am a history lover, and I loved how this book took historical events and made them real and exciting (Shhhh......don't tell the kids that they'll enjoy learning about history.). My 4th and 5th grade boys are going to love this book. It is clean and I recommend it for ages 3rd grade and up. You may read my full review on my book blog: www.the-readathon.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Inventor%27s%20Secret.
By Courtney, Submitted on 2015-02-25
In his inaugural book, Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret, Chad Morris tells the story of Derek and Abby Cragbridge; twin grandchildren of Oscar Cragbridge (who can best be described as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs all rolled into one). In a world where paper books (and even tablets) are rendered obsolete, the students at Cragbridge Hall watch history exactly as it happened; not with actors on a movie screen, but with a holographic echo of the actual historical characters. By the year 2074 Oscar has developed countless inventions that have changed the way the world works... and he has been kidnapped. With their grandfather and parents missing, Derek and Abby follow the clues left by Oscar--clues that can only be found by those who remember the lessons of history.
There are so many reasons why I loved this book. In fact, I loved it so much that I had my husband read it to the family immediately after I finished it. Chad Morris breathes life back into history by telling the stories. With Derek and Abby we get to relive Blackbeard's final battle, the sinking of the Titanic, the escape of Frederick Douglass, and Shackleton's trek across Antarctica. We relive well known and beloved historical figures and are introduced to those who have been forgotten.
In The Inventor's Secret, Chad's brilliance in bringing history alive is matched only by his ability to show us that the vast benefits of technology invariably include a few pitfalls. That the same tool that can be used to free millions of people can also be used to enslave others, and that sometimes freedom is more important than convenience or a life of ease. You will learn all of these lessons while reading an exciting and captivating tale about an insecure and "ordinary" little girl living in the shadow of her brilliant twin brother.
By Matt, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I found this book and found it quite unique. First of all this book did not try and create instant sympathy for the young main characters, Abby and Derick, through formulaic abuse, abandonment, or the parent’s tragic death. Instead you really cheer for these characters because of their personalities and snappy dialogue. But the best dialogue belongs to Carol, a friend soon scooped up in Abby’s and Derick’s adventure. I found myself laughing out loud various times because of something Carol did or said. In this book the writing is tight and narrative crisp.
The book centers on Cragbridge Hall—a futuristic school which allows the students to experience events from the past and control/become animal avatars. When the bad guy (I won’t spoil it by giving a name) secretly uses the technology of the school for evil purposes, Abby, Derick, and their friends really show ingenuity. However, again, like the sympathy, the ingenuity is not fashioned in a the same old, same old way. Instead the author uses real life historical events to help the characters solve the problems in the book. This idea of referring to historical events is the genius and uniqueness of this book. Every time one of the characters went into the past, I always wished that I could be there too!
During the book the characters, and us as readers, are reminded about fairly familiar people or events like Blackbeard the pirate, Annie Oakley, and the Titanic. Also, we are informed about lesser known events and people like Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the Antarctica. However, these events are not presented in a dry, stale, “history-is-boring” sort of way, but instead the characters, thanks to the futuristic tools of the school, live through the most exciting moments of history. In other words, this books bridges a gap between a historical fiction book and a fantasy book. I would call it a “Historia” book (historical fiction + a fantasy story).
So if you are a parent (I am in my 30s) or a kid looking for a book that can last past the final page until the second book in this series comes out, buy this book. You will find yourself looking into the real-life amazing stories of the past described in this work as you wait for the next installment. After I finished this book I sought out a reputable non-fiction book about Shackleton’s experience and found it fascinating.
By Shauna, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I REALLY REALLY LOVED this book!
Fun, creative storyline told so well you will stay up way past your bedtime reading it!
I LOVED all the inventions:
History class: you "watch" what really happened.
English: a student sits in a 'chair' and while reading the other students 'see' the story.
Gym: you get to literally run up a virtual mountain.
Zoology: you become an avatar of the animal you are studying.
And the challenges Abby and Derrick have to go through to save their parents and grandfather...just wait until you read all about that...SO GOOD!
I REALLY HOPE they make a movie out of this book :)