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Chronal Engine: A Prehistoric Time-Travel Adventure

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
When Max, Kyle, and Emma are sent to live with their reclusive grandfather, they think he’s crazy, especially when he tells them about his time machine. But after Emma is kidnapped at the exact time that her grandfather predicted, Max and Kyle are forced to believe his eccentric stories—even the one about the Chronal Engine in the basement.

Now, to save Emma, Max, Kyle, and
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dec 01, 2011 P.J. rated it it was amazing
Here's what I have to say about THE CHRONAL ENGINE:

1) If you're looking for a fast-paced middle grade adventure/science-fiction story, then this book is for you! The action starts on page one, and it never ends.

2) THE CHRONAL ENGINE is what happens when JURASSIC PARK meets GIDEON THE CUTPURSE. Yes, dinosaurs and time travel all in one awesome place.

3) The characters have serious spunk. They never stop trying to reach their goals. (I think we could all learn a lot from them.)

4) Did I mention Greg
Mar 21, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing
A time travel adventure that kids can really sink their reading teeth into! And the story bites back with thrilling excitement, family drama, and DINOSAURS!

Every little boy I've known has reached what I call "The Dinosaur Stage" where even as toddlers they're spouting off huge dinosaur names and begging for T-Rex toys. Girls, too, are drawn to prehistoric beasts--which makes CHRONAL ENGINE a great read for all kids (and adults who are kids are heart).

Author Greg Leitich Smith knows his dinosaurs
BAYA Librarian
Aug 17, 2012 BAYA Librarian rated it it was ok
Emma has been kidnapped. Her brothers Max and Kyle along with new friend Petra set out to find her. The catch: Emma has been taken back in time to the Cretaceous period, using their grandfather’s time machine. They will need to evade dinosaurs and figure out how to survive as they solve the mystery of the Chronal Engine and rescue their sister.

Time travel, dinosaurs and kidnapping all blend together in this middle-quality, middle-grade adventure story. Max is dinosaur-obsessed so much of his di
Sep 30, 2012 Tracey rated it did not like it
I found this unoriginal and not very well written.
Audrey Wilkerson
Ink and Page's Quick & Dirty Review

Rating : 3

The Low Down : The twins, Kyle and Emma, and their younger brother, Max, are staying for the summer with their grandfather on his ranch. The recluse grandfather that they have only seen once.

Family lore has it that their great-great grandfather built a time machine, was ridiculed for it, and became a hermit. Handing Max an envelope, his grandfather tells him they need to be at the dinosaur prints at precisely eight o’clock in the morning. Then
Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)
Mar 09, 2012 Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
After their grandfather predicts his own heart attack (you read that right) and their sister Emma is kidnapped and vanishes into thin air, Max, Kyle, and Petra ban together to rescue Emma. Full of jaw-dropping moments, car chases, and man eating giants all set in prehistoric Austin, Texas, this story is all about surviving. The characters are all smart in their own way, but Max is the brains and the dinosaur extraordinaire. That may come off as a little nerdy for an 8th grader, but he doesn't ca ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it
This was my first time reading a book by either of these two authors and I really liked it. Let me tell you that in my house watching the Discovery Channel, Nova, and the History Channel after school was not optional. This is both good and bad, you see now have a love of all things dinosaur and prehistoric as well sharks and nazis. It's true. By the time I was 8 I knew more about the past the any kid in my class...and though I got tired of my Dad forcing me to watch WWI and WWII shows I still ha ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: ala-2012
Huh. Well, that was...huh. The one thing I loved about this book was the occasional awesomely funny line that came out of nowhere. But kids + dinosaurs isn't exactly the most original combination. It would need something exceptional to make this topic special, and somehow even time travel just didn't cut it. I guess the biggest problem is how matter-of-fact everything is. When the kids' sister gets taken, they don't stress about it at all--they barely seem ruffled. They just almost immediately g ...more
Ms. Yingling
Apr 03, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it it was ok
When their mother gets a prestigious job on a far-flung archaeological dig, Emma, Max and Kyle have to go live with their grandfather, since their father was previously killed in Afghanistan. They haven't seen their grandfather in a long time, although he doesn't live far away, because he has checked out from humanity a bit. When the trio arrive, their grandfather tells them he is having a heart attack and that they must investigae the Chronal Engine, a time travel device, that is in his basemen ...more
Steven R. McEvoy
Apr 30, 2012 Steven R. McEvoy rated it it was amazing
This was the third novel by Greg Leitich Smith that I have read. Each has been a wonderful read. This story is written in a long tradition of Robinsonades. It is the story of time travel, dinosaurs and family. It was incredibly well written. I found it hard to put the book down the few times that I had to while reading it. The characters were amazing, and the loops in the story and the logic behind them was stunning. The way Greg has scripted this story sets it up for a number of wonderful reads ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Nick rated it it was amazing
The book Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith is a very fascinating book and adventurous. What makes it fascinating is that the author ties two of my favorite things, time travel and dinosaurs. The fact that it was adventurous was that the main characters actually got to use the time machine.

The book is about when the three main characters, Max, Kyle, and Emma, are sent to live with their reclusive grandfather, they think he’s crazy, especially when he tells them about his time machine. When he
Aug 31, 2012 KWinks rated it really liked it
I found this to be a pretty excellent survival story. Add in some dinosaurs and some time travel, and there you go. The pace was pretty quick, the science not over-explained and I added this to my list for older developing (formally "reluctant") readers. My only gripe is that the illustrations are in ill-timed positions, often ruining the surprise before the reader can even get to the set up. By the end, that totally frustrated me. Another problem with the illustrations is of WHAT they depicted. ...more
Nov 10, 2016 William added it
Shelves: ya-lit
This book is about some kids that go to their uncle's house and discover a machine called the Chronal Engine. The always thought it was just made up until one of them got kidnapped. They had to go back in time to save their sister. They went through a lot of struggles in the book like dinosaurs and their car. I really liked this book because it was filled with a lot of action and adventure. Also I liked this book because it was about time travel and going back in time. I recommend this book beca ...more
Drew Hoster
Oct 11, 2015 Drew Hoster rated it it was amazing
Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith is a great book about Max, Kyle, Petra, and Emma. The four kids are out on a walk when a mysterious man grabs Emma and then mysteriously disappears with her in his hands. Then Max, Kyle, and Petra find out about the Chronal Engine and have to go back to 20 million B.C. to save their sister Emma.
I would recommend this book to all of the action lovers out there. This book is also filled with mysteries so any mystery lovers out there would enjoy this book.
I lo
May 05, 2016 Will rated it it was ok
Expected A LOT more! Great synopsis attached to the book and the basic premise is a good one. But...that's about it for the positives. If you claim (in the title no less) that your story is an adventure then it ought to be adventurous. Sadly, Chronal Engine fails on that most important of fronts. As if this were not bad enough, the storytelling was stale and the characters lacked, well, character.
When I requested a copy of Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, I thought it was a young adult novel because it features teenagers as the main characters. After reading it, however, I believe it’s more likely to appeal to tweens and younger teens than older readers. I think it could also work for kids as young as nine or ten. Who can resist the combination of time travel and dinosaurs? Read the rest of my review at
Mar 15, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grades
This book took me back to my dinosaur-loving youth--though this is not a book for little kids! The vocabulary isn't dumbed down, the science is fascinating, and the updated dinosaur info is fascinating. It's a fast-paced adventure, with just enough violence and danger to keep the average video-gamer turning pages. I can't wait to book-talk this one in advance of the author's visit!
Oct 28, 2012 Bethe rated it it was ok
Putting this book on children's sci fi and YA shelf since it reads like a hi lo book, even though it has older characters, I think my 5th and even 4th graders could handle this one, especially the dino fans. Captioned pictures add to the easy readability. I found it a bit convoluted, but author's note shows plenty of research. Bambiraptor makes me giggle :)
Jun 21, 2012 Heather rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
The characters seemed really lackluster. Max with his know-it-all about dinosaurs dialog was really annoying, and everyone was, well they left no impression on me what so ever! Junior Library Guild what were you thinking?
Kat Black
Apr 11, 2012 Kat Black rated it really liked it
Time travel, dinosaurs, and strange, wonderfully surprising details (like the smell of dino poop) make this a great boy middle reader. (dino poop is my phrase:] Mr. Smith is far more restrained an author.) Nice job!
Sylvia Biondich
Jun 21, 2012 Sylvia Biondich rated it it was amazing
Loved this book to give to eighth grade reluctant readers. Fun story and fast action. Loved the time travel, the dinosaurs, the four main characters and the conundrums! Fun fast read for adults, too!
Jul 02, 2015 Kim added it
Emma is kidnapped at the exact time their grandfather predict and Max, Kyle had to agree about the Chronal Engine the basement. Which is believe to be a time machine.
Sep 27, 2012 Luca rated it really liked it
It was good, very fun. I liked how the guy described every single detail in the dinosaurs. I don't that that the couple (his brother and [something]) worked out too well.
M.G. King
Jun 07, 2012 M.G. King rated it it was amazing
Just the kind of book my boys love - an adventurous tale of time travel and survival, with lots of interesting facts about paleontology to soak up along the way.
Laurel Kathleen
Oct 12, 2015 Laurel Kathleen rated it liked it
Quick YA time travel story. But with dinosaurs! So Back to the Future meets Jurassic Park, basically.
Edward Sullivan
Jun 25, 2012 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
A fast-paced, enjoyable time travel adventure set in the late Cretaceous period.
Russel Santos
Apr 17, 2016 Russel Santos rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book because of the awesome adventure they had, and I love dinosaurs, too, so that's a plus.
Quick adventure with a nice time travel aspect.
May 25, 2012 Terrie rated it liked it
Read my review at Let's Talk Books
Chase rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2015
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