Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret

I have often been known to say that history isn’t a subject; history is THE subject.  While I try my best to give my children a well-rounded educational experience, I must admit that I am  heavy handed with the history.  Given my feelings on the matter you might be surprised to know that I didn’t always feel that way.  I have always loved the IDEA of history, but in practice I found the study of it dull and tedious.  The “experts” who wrote those text books managed to suck all of the life out of what seemed like what should an exciting subject.  Seriously, how do you make World War II boring?

As I began homeschooling I realized that the reason history was so boring when I was a kid was because it was lifeless.  It was nothing more than a jumble of dates, places and names; where decades would be condensed into just a few paragraphs.  History isn’t about memorizing dates or places on a map.  History is a STORY.

“These are the times that try men’s souls”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.”

“But as for me, give me Liberty or give me Death!”

“Never, never, never give up!”

“Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Each of these quotes has a person behind it with a story to tell.  Each story has a lesson.

Alexis de Tocqueville said “History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.”  In slightly less poetic, though much more familiar words, “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”.

The Inventor's Secret

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.

I often wonder how the “experts” decide who is and isn’t worth learning about.  Why are there countless references to Alexander Hamilton, but the names of Benjamin Rush or Robert Morris are nowhere to be seen in modern text books?  With his role in financing the American Revolution, it can be argued that Robert Morris did far more for our Country than the man who’s face is on our ten dollar bill.  Oh the irony.

In trying to fit hundreds of years of history into a few pages the “experts” snuff out far more than the excitement and fervor that history can light in us; they also eliminate the morals and values that we learn from those stories and real life heroes we could be looking up to.  We learn about how George Washington led the patriot army to victory and became the first President of the United States.  We don’t learn about a man who gave up everything he wanted, time and again to answer his country’s call to serve.  We don’t see his humility and passion for freedom as he angrily rebuffs the offer to be king.  We are taught that he was a slave owner, but not that the regulations in Virginia regarding slaves rendered it impossible to free them.  We don’t hear about how the vast majority of those slaves (though they were under his stewardship) were not even his, and he couldn’t have freed them anyway.  We don’t hear about how he avoided the slave trade as much as possible and absolutely refused to break up families.  We learn how he was a “rich, white guy” but are not taught that not once did he accept payment for his services as the leader of the Continental Army or as leader of the country.  We don’t learn about the kind of person George Washington was because the stories are kept from us.

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.

The Inventor’s Secret is a deep and meaningful classic that belongs on everyone’s bookshelves.  You will learn more every time you read it.  Want to win a copy?  I knew you would :)

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//{Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book for my family in exchange for a review, I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.}


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Stephanie Fraley says:

    I’ve always loved history and never understood why people didn’t agree! You’re right though, dates and names are boring. Stories are where we learn the real lessons. I hope my girls are as excited about history as I am since they’ll definitely be studying it… a lot!

    We pass the Alamo on our way home from church, so even though they are tiny, they get to hear talked of Texas’ amazing story. :)


  2. Seastar says:

    New books are always welcome around out house. This one sounds interesting and just the kind of thing my kids enjoy.


  3. Debra says:

    Favorite history story? Goodness, whichever one I’m reading at the time? Or whichever one I’m planning to teach my kids. So right now, I’m rather fond of the middle ages and the explorers.


  4. Trista says:

    I want to teach history Utah have no idea how to do it. I’d love to hear more how you do that.


  5. I was never a huge history fan until we started homeschooling. Now, history has come alive. Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite history story because there are so many great ones.


  6. Cari says:

    Awesome! Can’t wait to read it. It’s now in my amazon cart ready for my next order. We love all things history too and especially FUN history!


  7. Lisa says:

    Last book you recommended, I got for the family (Toby Gold) It was absolutely fabulous! Looking forward to reading this one, as well :)
    I love history but unfortunately my kids have not yet learned to love it as I do… My fave history is World War II and all the amazing unsung heroes that helped Jewish families.


    1. Lisa you will love this one too! I know what you mean, The Hiding Place is an absolute classic :)


  8. Daphne says:

    I am always looking for new books for my kids. They read them so fast it’s hard to keep up. Plus I like the books that don’t have a lot of fluff, something to learn from.
    One of my many favs are (Number the Stars)


    1. I have that one but haven’t read it yet.


  9. I too love history! I can’t say that I have a fav though.


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