Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret -- Chad Morris

Abby and Derick have been accepted to the most prestigious secondary school in the world: Cragbridge Hall. Due to the inventions of their grandfather, Oscar Cragbridge, they will be able to experience history in 3D, use their minds to literally project visual interpretations of classic literature, and become animal avatars for zoology. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, Abby and Derick must follow clues Oscar left for them that will reveal a dangerous secret. Along the way, they discover there is much more to one of their grandfather's inventions than anyone has ever dreamed. Saving their family will take all of Derick's mind and Abby's heart as they come face to face with a crazed scientist who desperately seeks to change the past. If they fail, the world past and future will never be the same.

Shadow Mountain has brought us what appears to be another delightful, and popular fantasy series for young readers. In the vein of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Missing series, The Infinity Ring series under the tutelage of creator and author James Dashner, and a dash of the 39 Clues series tossed in for good measure, Morris's novel takes us to the delightful possibility of time travel in an incredible school, unlike any in existence, and teaches a bit of history along the way.

Although some of the history was obscure and likely not familiar to the majority of young readers, they will immediately recognize, and experience the suspense, of the sinking of the Titanic. A little more development about Ernest Shackleton, Hugh Glass and John Colter, and the complete omission of the reference to Joseph Smith would have improved the historical aspects of the novel. The paragraph about Smith was confusing, causing me to reread three times and still not understanding why such an obscure event to the non-Mormon world was even included, other than to serve as an all-too-obvious head-nod to the local community of readers.

With that one exception, I loved the book and will recommend it to my junior-high students. The addition of discussion questions lends the book to small group study, such as literature circles.     


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