Bafta-winning and Emmy-nominated Belfast-based studio Sixteen South recently announced that together with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, they have optioned and are co-developing and co-producing A Horse Named Steve.
This is a new 2D animated series based on the acclaimed debut picture book by Toronto author-illustrator Kelly Collier. The 52 X 11 series will feature hilarious storylines while showing the importance of friendship, teamwork and appreciating one’s true self.
A laugh-out-loud tale of an endearingly self-absorbed horse, A Horse Named Steve topped “best book of the year” lists when it was released in 2017 by Canadian publisher Kids Can Press, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Illustrated in lively black-and-white artwork interwoven with humorous commentary, the book and its follow-up Team Steve, follow the exploits of Steve, a good-natured, rather obtuse horse who thinks he’s ordinary but wants to be exceptional.
“We knew as soon as we saw the cover of A Horse Named Steve that Steve was a perfect addition to Sixteen South’s stable,” said Sixteen South creative director, Colin Williams. “Kelly’s offbeat humour and quirky illustration style sealed the deal, aligning so well with the kind of stories we like to bring to life, so we moved quickly to option the rights from Kids Can Press.”
“Steve’s larger-than-life antics and slapstick comedy have delighted both children and adults alike,” said Nelvana Studios VP Athena Georgaklis.
Kids Can Press president and publisher Lisa Lyons Johnston said, “Developing these kinds of partnerships—with Sixteen South and of course with our colleagues at Nelvana—helps to expand the reach of our creators’ books and puts their characters and stories in front of children and families wherever they may be. We’re always on the lookout for stories that will appeal to creators of other children’s entertainment media, as Kelly’s work clearly has.”
“It’s amazing to see how far Steve has come,” said author-illustrator Kelly Collier. “Particularly because he started out as a little doodle I made to fill an empty picture frame! I can’t wait to see Steve strutting around on TV screens, having found the perfect home with Sixteen South and Nelvana.”
Recently the Vooks animated digital ebook of A Horse Named Steve, narrated by Emmy-nominated actor Rainn Wilson, helped earn the American company a 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Crossmedia Award nomination in the inaugural Digital Library category. The awards are part of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, a global children’s publishing event held annually in Bologna, Italy.
Image courtesy: Kelly Collier’s Twitter account