Learning about civics just got a lot more entertaining. PBS Kids plans to launch a new series of innovative shorts titled City Island targeting elementary school audiences on Dec. 26. The series is created by New York-based Aaron Augenblick, founder of animation studio Augenblick Studios, and Future Brain Media. The collection will showcase 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 show features the voices of Kimia Behpoornia and Kimiko Glenn, with guest appearances that include Amy Schumer, Julio Torres, James Adomian, and Debi Mazar.
“After years of making cartoons, City Island is my dream project. It’s a love letter to all my favorite kids’ shows,” said series creator Aaron Augenblick. “Best of all, the show is set in a world where we can explore dynamic visuals and important themes.”
“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 is set in City Island, a thriving metropolis with local organizations, government institutions, and a diverse citizenry, every car, tree and building is a fun character with its own name, voice, and distinctive personality. 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 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 is an animator, writer, director, and founder of Augenblick Studios, with notable productions including Ugly Americans, The Jellies, Wonder Showzen, Headspace Guide to Meditation, and Losers. Powell is the Emmy and Peabody winning co-President of TV & Film production company Irony Point.
The style of City Island is based on the comics of Gemma Correll (A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette, The Feminist Activity Book). 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 will include 20 three-minute episodes. The first ten will stream free on PBS KIDS beginning December 26, with the remaining ten debuting on January 20, 2023.
PBS KIDS will also debut new Molly of Denali: The Big Gathering shorts 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 ten shorts will stream free on PBS KIDS starting November 7, with the remaining ten launching on November 21.
Other shorts in the PBS Kids library include Arthur, Odd Squad, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, Jelly, Ben & Pogo and Elinor Wonders Why.
You can watch an exclusive clip from City Island below: