There’s so much to like about the new children’s book Xavier Marx and the Missing Masterpieces by Hilary Genga and Sean Cronin.

At its heart, it’s a fun mystery, told in rhyme, about a group of schoolchildren on a field trip to an art museum. As they take their guided tour, the lights suddenly falter, and when they return, the many masterpieces by legendary artists suddenly are gone.

But the book is much more than that simple storyline, for a variety of reasons, as it:

  • Provides a glimpse of some of the great masters, their work and what defines them.
  • Inspires children to see that their own innovation and imagination can propel them to paint and create art.
  • Introduces us to Xavier, a curious boy, shy about sharing his thoughts but who rises to the occasion to help solve the mystery.

A REAL-LIFE TREASURE HUNT ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

Now, taking the idea of missing masterpieces a step further, the book includes a real-life treasure hunt in which readers are invited to seek out a “treasure” in the form of a prize token hidden in a public place somewhere in the continental United States. The first person or team to find the treasure will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

Clues to the whereabouts of the prize token appear throughout the book, including one, if you can find it, from acclaimed actor/producer/writer Jesse Eisenberg. Details and updates for “America’s Race for the Treasure” can be found on the book’s Instagram page at @raceforthetreasure.

The book and the treasure hunt have partnered with the International Child Art Foundation. In fact, many of ICAF’s young artists have filled the pages of Xavier Marx and the Missing Masterpieces with original paintings of their own when the masterpieces disappear. ICAF’s mission is to cultivate schoolchildren’s creativity for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and grow mutual empathy for “a more perfect union” through the power of the arts. The book and treasure hunt project hopes to raise money for the Foundation.

The story itself features the shy Xavier as our narrator, who notes,

“Xavier Marx is my name,
Alphabetically last,
I’m a bit of a nerd
And routinely outcast.
But I know that I’m smart,
And I know that I’m cool!
Even if I’m not
The most popular in school.”

THE ART OF SELF-REFLECTION

There’s a lot for kids to consider from Xavier’s self-reflection. “It doesn’t matter how popular or cool you are as long as you believe in yourself,” says Genga. “We all have the ability to step up and solve problems no matter how big they seem.”

Many of the children identify their favorite artists, ranging from Picasso to Da Vinci to Michelangelo. For Xavier, it’s Van Gogh, specifically “Starry Night” (“The yellows and blues – how they dazzle the mind, swirling brush strokes delicate and refined!”) even though he only “thinks” it and doesn’t verbalize it for his classmates.

Shortly after, the lights go out. And when they come back on, the great paintings are gone, replaced by paintings from children around the world.

Jay, the tour guide, has an interesting perspective and encouraging words as he sees the new children’s paintings:

“‘What makes art famous,
And what makes art bad?’
Jay asked of us all.
‘I think this art’s rad.
Anyone can paint
And anyone can draw.
Even a masterpiece
Is not without flaw.’”

And for a moment, everyone forgets about the missing masterpieces and admires the new art created by the children.

A HEARTFELT CLOSING MESSAGE FOR YOUNG ARTISTS

The book closes with the message:

“Behind all great artists,
Are those who inspire.
Imagination and heart
Is all you require.”

For children of all ages, parents and teachers to experience a fun adventure, we recommend that you jump into the story, the games, the education and the messages within Xavier Marx and the Missing Masterpieces — it is certainly worth the investment to add it to your library of children’s books.

Says Genga, “With so much need in the world, the arts often get left behind. The arts are so important for children in every way. The book promotes healing, community, creative thinking and so much more.  We wanted to do our small part in giving something to the arts.” 

Buy this book!

About the Authors:

Sean Cronin lives in Long Beach, CA. When he’s not scouring the ends of the earth for treasure, he enjoys long walks on the beach with his dog Perry, playing disc golf with his girlfriend Larissa, and arguing with movie producers that, yes, the world really does need the animated musical parody Air Dud: A Jockey’s Tail. His biggest passions in life are teaching kids and creating art.

Hilary Genga lives in Tarzana, CA with her family — which includes her dog. Hilary is an entrepreneur, an award-winning theater producer and founder and CEO of Trunkettes Swimwear. She designed the iconic bikini that made history when worn by Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and recently teamed up with Kathy Ireland to create The Fashion Jungle swimwear line.

Sara Martin is a graphic designer and fine artist from Long Island, NY and is new to the world of children’s books. She hopes to inspire readers of all ages to get creative and always be on the hunt for new adventures.