Search form

Sixteen South and Nelvana Option ‘A Horse Named Steve’

Belfast-based studio teams up with kids’ content giant on an animated adaptation of Toronto author-illustrator Kelly Collier’s popular picture book about the humorous exploits of an endearingly self-absorbed horse.

Award-winning Belfast-based animation studio Sixteen South and kids’ content leader Nelvana announced an agreement to option, co-develop and co-produce a new 2D animated series, A Horse Named Steve, based on the hugely popular debut picture book by Toronto author-illustrator Kelly Collier. The 52x11 series will feature funny storylines while illustrating the importance of friendship, teamwork, and appreciating one’s true self.

The tale of the endearingly self-absorbed horse, “A Horse Named Steve” was released in 2017 by Canadian independent children’s publisher Kids Can Press, which celebrates 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’s Creative Director, Colin Williams. “Kelly’s offbeat humor 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.”

Nelvana Studios VP Athena Georgaklis added, “Steve’s larger-than-life antics and slapstick comedy have delighted both children and adults alike. We’re excited to not only develop yet another revered Kids Can Press book franchise into an animated series but are also eager to collaborate with Colin and the Sixteen South team to co-develop and co-produce a series that successfully captures Kelly’s unique tone and illustration style on screen.”

“As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we’ve been reminded of how important the wide range of partnerships we’ve fostered over the years are to the success of our business,” commented Kids Can Press President and Publisher Lisa Lyons Johnston. “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.”

Recently the Vooks animated digital ebook of “A Horse Named Steve,” narrated by actor/comedian 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 premier global children’s publishing event held annually in Bologna, Italy.

“It’s amazing to see how far Steve has come,” said 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.”

Source: Sixteen South

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.