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PBS KIDS' ‘City Island’ Digital Shorts Coming December 26

In the new animated series, created by Aaron Augenblick, kids get a civics lesson featuring a diverse citizenry of trees, cars, and buildings, each with its own name and personality; next month, new ‘Molly of Denali: The Big Gathering’ shorts also launch.

PBS KIDS is rolling out City Island, a new series of animated digital shorts featuring a civics curriculum, highlighting topics like cooperation, conflict resolution, and city planning to help young viewers understand 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, and rolls out to U.S. audiences December 26.

The show is set in City Island, a thriving metropolis with local organizations, government institutions, and a diverse citizenry. Every car, tree, and building has its own name, voice, and distinctive personality.

“PBS KIDS is committed to meeting kids where they are and making learning accessible in multiple formats,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President, and General Manager PBS KIDS. “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.”

The series expands PBS KIDS’ roster of educational short-form content to support and teach children key concepts. The show is created by Augenblick Studios and Future Brain Media founder Aaron Augenblick (Ugly Americans, The Jellies, Wonder Showzen, Headspace Guide to Meditation, Losers).

“After years of making cartoons, City Island is my dream project,” shared Augenblick. “It’s a love letter to all my favorite 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.”

The shorts follow Watt, a little lightbulb with big ideas. In each episode, Watt meets all the cheerfully optimistic community members and learns how they make the city run, exploring different locations like the library, airport, planetarium, and art museum, all while working together to find the best solutions for simple problems. City Island is a living city where the infrastructure and town objects are all characters and community members – from fire trucks and mail carriers to cafes, plants, bicycles, and even the roads. Watt’s best friend is Windy, a flying kite who lives in the floating City Island neighborhood of Skytown and shares his thirst for exploration and adventure. In addition to civics, the series also touches on a social studies curriculum, including geography and economics, and highlights the benefits of a community that works together, illustrating that great ideas are one of our most precious resources.

Augenblick serves as creator and executive producer alongside the Emmy and Peabody-winning co-president of Irony Point, Daniel Powell, and Gemma Correll, who also serves as art director. The show’s style is based on writer and illustrator Correll’s comics (“A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette,” “The Feminist Activity Book,” “The Worrier’s Guide to Life”).

In 2021 Augenblick and Powell founded and launched the children’s animation studio Future Brain Media. The theme song and score for the series are composed by Tunde Adebimpe (lead singer for the 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 December 26, with the remaining 10 debuting on January 20, 2023.

PBS KIDS will also debut new Molly of Denali: The Big Gathering shorts starting November 7. 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 10 shorts will stream free on PBS KIDS starting November 7, with the remaining 10 launching on November 21.

Source: PBS KIDS

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.