The Inventors and the Lost Island
Second in a series after The Inventors at No. 8 (oddly, there’s only one inventor, and she lives at number 5), this magical Victorian steampunk adventure is a really fun hijinks tale! Hapless and self-doubting George, 3rd Lord of Devonshire and his neighbour, ingenious mathematician Ada Byron (future Countess of Lovelace), team up to follow more clues to Grandfather Devonshire’s lost treasure. Pursued by the evil Don Nadie and his ‘Society of Nobodies’, the kids set to sea in Ada’s adaptable mechanical whale, finding friends from the previous book along the way—Captain Bibble, a pirate; Oscar, his son and a “wanna-be-a poet” (not pirate!) and the adorable orange-haired baby orangutan, Ruthie.
This is a lovely story, perfect for 8+ with their uninhibited imaginations. Although chased by adults, there are no inconvenient grown-ups (read parents) to spoil the adventure, danger, and good fun. The children must rely on their wits and be pragmatic, thoughtful, and clever. They all chip with their talents when solving the clues to clear the Devonshire name of scandal. There are lots of surprises along the way—even the treasure is sentimentally not what’s expected—and friendships are tested as the children learn to believe in one another and help each other, risking their own safety to stand side by side. Oscar and Ada keep George putting his best foot forward even when his hereditary identity is in doubt, which is what good friends do. Bravo to Iacopo Bruno for the lovely cover designs for this and the previous book! The Author Notes about Ada Byron are well worth a read. Let’s hope Ms. Morgen’s got another doubtful George and plucky Ada adventure in the pipeline.