A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Viewers will learn about the historical luminaries featured on each show, for instance, what accomplishments they were known for, as well as when and where they were born and how their historical period affected their lives. However, the show does take liberties with the facts, i.e. Amelia Earhart is shown flying over the Atlantic as a very young girl, and her motto is said to be "Go for it," a suspiciously modern motto.
Themes of curiosity and perseverance arise as famous people tell their stories, which often revolve around going against the grain and following one's own inspiration steadfastly.
Positive Role Models
Xavier, Yadina, and Brad are supportive friends to each other, like in one episode where Brad is gently encouraged to give up training wheels on his bike, without being embarrassed or urged. A diverse group of historical people appear on the show, from founding fathers to chefs to ex-slaves, and viewers learn about why they were important.
Violence & Scariness
Very young viewers may be scared by sequences in which characters are transported back through time: they grab onto something and are pulled into the air while object rush past furiously.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum -- inspired by the best-selling kids book series Ordinary People Change the World -- is an animated series about three friends who discover a hidden museum where they can be transported back in time to meet important people from history when they were kids. The central idea is appealing, and parents will like that kids are learning about history, as well as the diversity of the historical celebs featured. Many people of color are spotlighted (George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman), as are women (Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie). But the show plays loose with actual facts (was Carver's biggest challenge protecting his garden from rogue soccer players?), which is puzzling for a show about history. Parents may want to watch along and share their own knowledge. The show doesn't have any iffy language or mature content, save for sequences in which the friends travel through time, which is depicted as rushing dangerously fast through a landscape with objects that look like they might hit them. Themes of curiosity and perseverance are illustrated with segments that spotlight how important it can be to think or do things differently than the mainstream.
Is It Any Good?
As an appealing "you can do anything!" adventure cartoon for kids, this animated show is moderately successful, but its tendency to play fast and loose with historical facts is puzzling. The idea of a secret world that lies beneath our ordinary one is a time-honored literary and cinematic setup, so the subterranean museum that Xavier, Yadina, and Brad have discovered beneath a regular science museum is a cool entry point into the trio's adventures. It may even spark imaginative fantasies for young viewers, already seeking Narnia in closets and Platform 9 3/4 in train stations.
But the series' many historical inaccuracies are odd for a show that clearly wants to make history come alive for kids. "Go for it!" is an unlikely motto for Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937, and she certainly didn't complete her solo Atlantic flight as a grade schooler, as Xavier Riddle depicts. George Washington Carver did have a secret garden as a child, in which he learned important lessons that impacted his career in botany, but it's a real stretch to imagine him having to defend plants from renegade soccer players in 19th century Missouri -- and the show seems to overlook his importance as an activist for ex-slaves and champion of sustainable agriculture, instead boiling his messages down to "take care of plants and you'll take care of the earth." Parents who let their kids watch may want to supplement the lessons learned.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.