City Island, a new series of animated digital shorts for early elementary school-aged children, will be coming to audiences across the U.S. starting 26 December 2022 on PBS Kids. From creator Aaron Augenblick, founder of animation studio Augenblick Studios, and Future Brain Media, the new shorts will feature a civics curriculum, highlighting topics like cooperation, conflict resolution, and city planning, helping to foster young viewers’ understanding of how cities and communities work. The series stars Kimia Behpoornia and Kimiko Glenn, with guest appearances that include Amy Schumer, Julio Torres, James Adomian, and Debi Mazar.
Set in City Island, a thriving metropolis with local organisations, government institutions, and a diverse citizenry, every car, tree and building is a fun character with its own name, voice, and distinctive personality. The introduction of City Island will add to PBS Kids’ expanding roster of engaging and educational short-form content that aims to support and teach children key concepts anywhere, anytime.
PBS Kids GM and senior VP said, “PBS Kids is committed to meeting kids where they are and making learning accessible in multiple formats. We’re excited to continue building our short form content library, and to tackle civics with City Island in such a vibrant and engaging way.”
“After years of making cartoons, City Island is my dream project. It’s a love letter to all my favourite kids’ shows. Best of all, City Island is a world where we can explore dynamic visuals and important themes. Working with PBS Kids has been an extremely rewarding process,” said Augenblick.
The shorts star Watt, a little lightbulb with big ideas. In each episode, Watt meets all the cheerfully optimistic members of the community and learns about how they make the city run, exploring different locations like the library, airport, planetarium, art museum and more, all while working together to find the best solutions to simple problems. City Island is a living city where the infrastructure and town objects are all characters and members of the community – from fire trucks and mail carriers to cafes, plants, bicycles, and even the roads themselves. Watt’s best friend is Windy, a flying kite who lives in the floating City Island neighbourhood of Skytown, and matches his thirst for exploration and adventure. In addition to civics, the series also touches on a social studies curriculum, including geography and economics. The new City Island shorts highlight the benefits of a community that works together and shows that great ideas are one of our most precious resources.
City Island comes to PBS Kids from creator and executive producer Aaron Augenblick and executive producers Daniel Powell and Gemma Correll, who also serves as art director. Augenblick has notable productions under his name including Ugly Americans, The Jellies, Wonder Showzen, Headspace Guide to Meditation, and Losers. Powell is the Emmy and Peabody winning co-president of TV and Film production company Irony Point. The style of City Island is based on the comics of Gemma Correll. Gemma has written and illustrated several books, including: A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette, The Feminist Activity Book, and The Worrier’s Guide to Life. Augenblick and Powell founded and launched children’s animation studio Future Brain Media in 2021. The theme song and score for the series are composed by Tunde Adebimpe, who is best known as the lead singer for the experimental rock and roll band TV on the Radio. The series of shorts, produced with major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), will include 20 three-minute episodes. The first 10 will stream free on PBS Kids beginning 26 December, with the remaining ten debuting on 20 January 2023.
City Island joins PBS Kids’ growing collection of fun and engaging shorts. PBS Kids will also debut new Molly of Denali: The Big Gathering shorts starting 7 November. The latest shorts from the groundbreaking animated series will feature 20 stories that follow Molly and the people of her hometown of Qyah as they prepare for The Big Gathering, an annual festival for Indigenous peoples inspired by the real-life Alaskan Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. The first ten shorts will stream free on PBS KIDS starting 7 November, with the remaining ten launching on 21 November.
The first nationally distributed children’s series to feature a Native American lead character, the Peabody Award-winning Molly of Denali centres on Alaska Native Molly Mabray, a feisty and resourceful 10-year-old Gwich’in/Koyukon/Dena’ina Athabascan girl, who takes viewers ages four-eight along on her adventures, helping to boost their literacy skills along the way. With an emphasis on family and intergenerational relationships, Molly of Denali models Alaska Native values, such as respecting others, sharing what you have, and honouring your elders, while showcasing contemporary aspects of rural life, including strong female role models and how technology aids in communication. Molly of Denali and the new shorts are a part of the CPB and PBS Ready To Learn Initiative with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The Ready To Learn Initiative is a federal program that supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families.
Other shorts in the PBS Kids library include those from Emmy-winning Arthur and Odd Squad, as well as Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, Jelly, Ben and Pogo and Elinor Wonders Why.