TV and Movies

It’s ‘Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum’!!

Our local museum is currently closed for renovations {insert sad face here}. It means we are without our regular dose of history, especially the stuff curated for the young kids. To be honest, history can be sooooooo drrrrrryyyyyyy. Unless you’re Brad Meltzer or Christopher Eliopoulos–then history is wacky, child-like, fun, and adventurous. And now it’s a kid-show: Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.

Who is Xavier Riddle and What is the Secret Museum?

Xavier Riddle is the main character in the new kids’ show, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. The Secret Museum is a hidden section of the museum with all the best toys. Seriously, I have no idea where this section is for our local museum but I would pay extra for access! This is all part of a new tv show aimed at our youngest history-geeks-in-making (aged around 4-to-7-years-old). Starting Monday, November 11, the new animated adventure-comedy series will share five back-to-back episodes on PBS, PBS KIDS 24/7 channel, and PBS KIDS digital platforms.

This new series is based on the awesome kids’ books series, Ordinary People Change the World written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. The books have been a huge hit, around the world and right here with GeekMom and GeekDad (checkout GeekMom Caitlin’s great review here).

Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum takes the books to a new level, bringing the biographies to life with kid-centric storytelling. Each episode follows Xavier, his little sister Yandina, and their friend Brad on an adventure through time to meet significant people from history–just like the books! And to be honest, I’m so happy to see they kept that same child-like feel to the series. In fact, I think that’s the secret super-power behind the books: they feel like a parent’s love-story for history, as told to their kids.

That’s exactly how this all started! Before Ordinary People Change the World, Meltzer wrote Heroes For My Son–a collection of non-fiction vignettes on inspiring heroes. Meltzer started the book on the night his first son was born. It was soon followed with Heroes for My Daughter and eventually the series we love so much, Ordinary People Change the World.

Interview with Brad Meltzer, Creator of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum

Evil Genius Mum: Heroes For My Son is an amazing gift to create for your son. It is beautiful to see a geeky interest in history being passed down in such a lovely and beautiful way. What is your favourite historic event, something that really triggered your “Oh, I love this!” moment from history?

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Brad Meltzer: When my son was born, my friend Simon Sinek told me this amazing story about the Wright Brothers. Every time the Wright Brothers went out to fly their plane, they brought extra materials for multiple crashes. That means every time they went out, they knew they’d fail. So they’d crash and rebuild…and crash and rebuild. And that’s why they took off. I love that story. I wanted my sons to hear that story. I wanted my daughter to hear that story. I wanted everyone to know that if you dream big, and work hard, and have a good side order of stubbornness, you can do anything in this world. The whole book series started there.

EG Mum: How does the way we tell history affect our memory of history? And why is this important with young kids?

Meltzer: I’m fully convinced that our memories of our childhoods are totally wrong. If we had time machines, we’d see different versions of so many events that we could swear happened a certain way. But those biggest stories in our psyches – the ones we keep telling over and over? They define us. They matter. And they reveal us. It’s why stories are so vital – especially the ones we tell our kids. Our stories become part of their stories. And their psyches. It’s why I’m so committed to giving kids better heroes to look up to. In today’s world, our kids need lessons of kindness, compassion and resilience.

EG Mum: The artwork in the show has a very Charles M Schulz quality to it. At first, I thought it was mostly due to Chris Eliopoulos’ style (which I love) but the same innocence and emotional depth is apparent in how you write the books and the tv show preview I watched. Your enthusiasm really comes through. Was this style of art what you had in mind from the beginning, or was it something that simply came together when Chris put it to paper?

Meltzer: Our amazing artist Chris Eliopoulos grew up on Charlie Brown and Calvin and Hobbes. They built him, just as they built me. So, of course, you’ll see their influence, just as you’ll see the influence of Jim Henson, Mister Rogers and Walt Disney. But in the end, Chris’s art is pure Chris – it’s wholly his own style. But I know the power of seeing what you love. When I was 5 years old, people like Jim Henson and Mister Rogers taught me you could use your creativity to put good into this world. That’s all we’re trying to do with the I AM books–use our creativity to put more good into the world.

EG Mum: If you could travel in the Secret Museum and witness any moment in time, what would it be?

Meltzer: You’ll see! But I’ll give you this hint–there’s a reason Abraham Lincoln keeps popping up in so many episodes. He’s one of the heroes who really lives up to all the hype. It’s easy to fight for your own self-interest. What I love about Lincoln is that he was fighting–and using his voice to help others. There’s no more powerful way to be heard.

We loved the preview episodes of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum! Our favorite so far is the garden adventure with George Washington Carver; our own budding botanist ran out to the garden and checked over each of her plants to make sure they were okay. For parents eager to take the history lesson, PBS has parent resources and educator materials available on their website. When you can’t make it to the museum, this is possibly the next best thing.

Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum starts Monday, November 11 on PBS. Check your guides for details.

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This post was last modified on November 10, 2019 7:43 pm

Evil Genius Mum

Taking over the world from the comfort of her EG Lair Down Under (Australia). She plans to reset the world in her own geeky image - because geeks do it better. From old school superheroes to tech gadgets, EG Mum is all about sharing the geeky world with her spawnlings - Sinister, Nefarious, and Zaltu... if they don't beat her to it.

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