Today is World Book Day, an annual day to celebrate reading, books and all things publishing, and the perfect day to shine a light on the new Xavier Riddle book series that launched last week from Penguin Young Readers.
The new books are each structured around an episode from the animated television series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, which premiered in November on PBS Kids and is based on the children’s book series Ordinary People Change the World by New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos.
Now on sale are the first three titles from the series of nine – I Am Susan B. Anthony (8×8 Storybook), I Am Cleopatra (Leveled Reader) and I Am Harry Houdini (8×8 Storybook). The Xavier Riddle book launch also coincided with the World release of I Am Leonardo da Vinci, the 20th title in The Ordinary People Change the World series and an exciting milestone for the books.
To tell us a little more about the Xavier Riddle book series we reached out to award-winning illustrator Chris Eliopoulos. We had a chance to catch up with Chris and ask him what he loves about the new books, and who he would want the Secret Museum to send him back in time to meet.
Adventure on! Read this way…
What is the best part about the new Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum book series?
We have an episode of Xavier Riddle, where Yadina is trying new methods to learn how to read. I think so many children who watch the episodes of Harry Houdini, or Susan B. Anthony or Cleopatra may find it easier to read the book based on it because they already know the story and can piece together what the book is saying and therefore improve their reading skills. Plus, the characters are cute!
If you could choose an author/artist from the past to travel back in time to meet, who would it be, and why?
I’d probably go back and meet Leonardo Da Vinci. I’d need Xavier’s translator, but Leonardo had so many diverse interests. I’d love to be able to see how his mind worked, what his visions for the future were and maybe take an art lesson or two.
In both the Xavier Riddle tv and book series, all the historical heroes have a mantra/lesson that they share or teach to Xavier, Yadina and Brad. What would be the Chris Eliopoulos Hero mantra?
I am not the best writer. I’m not the best cartoonist. I got where I am by working hard, being helpful and being kind. So, that’s my mantra: Work hard, be helpful, and be kind!
What books from your childhood left a mark on your heart?
When I was little, I loved the Peanuts comic strip. I still do. I was an anxious child and those Peanuts books said what I was feeling, everyone else felt too. And that it was okay. So, I’ve tried to continue that in my work. I want kids to know that it’s okay to be scared or anxious or upset, but it will get better. Those Peanuts books taught me that.
What books are currently on your reading stand?
I’m reading, Becoming Dr. Seuss, by Brian Jay Jones. I just finished The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. I’m also about to start The Lincoln Conspiracy by some guy named Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch.
You can find the Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum books for sale online via select retailers.