Nico Franks/ C21 Media
PBS Kids in the US has ordered an action-adventure animated comedy that it says will be the first nationally distributed children’s series to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character.
Molly of Denali (38×30’/1×60′), currently in production with PBS station WGBH and Atomic Cartoons in Canada, follows the adventures of a feisty and resourceful 10-year-old girl.
It has been developed and produced with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Grant and CBC in Canada.
Set to debut in the US in summer 2019, it follows Molly as she helps her parents run the Denali Trading Post, a general store, bunkhouse and transport hub in the fictional village of Qyah, Alaska.
It is designed to help four- to eight-year-olds develop knowledge and skills for interacting with informational texts through video content, interactive games and real-world activities.
“PBS Kids programming is rooted in education and inclusion, and we are always looking for new ways to highlight the many different communities that make up America,” said Linda Simensky, VP of children’s programming at PBS.
WGBH Boston is developing the series with a working group of Alaska Native advisors and consultants. Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neets’aii Gwich’in), producer and Fairbanks resident, is creative producer of the series.
It will also feature Alaska Native voice talent in key roles, including the lead role of Molly, as well as Alaska Native scriptwriters. WGBH and its animation partner, Atomic Cartoons, said they will also host Alaska Native interns for production and animation roles.
In related news, PBS Kids is set to debut Let’s Go Luna (fka Luna Around the World), produced by 9 Story Media Group’s Brown Bag Films and created by animator, writer and artist Joe Murray, on November 21.
The preschool series encourages kids to learn about cultures around the world and follows the adventures of three friends, a wombat from Australia, a butterfly from Mexico and a frog from the US, as they traverse the globe with their parents’ travelling performance troupe.