Pinkalicious & Peterrific, an animated TV series based on Victoria Kann’s bestselling Pinkalicious picture books, will debut on February 19 with an hour-long premiere. In the lead-up to the show, which is produced by WGBH Boston and will air on PBS Kids, new segments are being posted online each week at pbskids.org. Apps and other digital content, along with teacher resources, will accompany the series.
“I loved the idea of working with WGBH and PBS,” Kann said. “They have the same values I do and they’re known for a strong curriculum that’s in synch with the messages in the books: having the courage to stand up for yourself, loving yourself for who you are, and being as sweet as your sweet tooth.”
As in the books, a core theme of Pinkalicious & Peterrific is art and creativity. Each half-hour episode will feature two 11-minute animated stories revolving around a concept related to dance, music, or visual arts. The two segments will be punctuated by a live-action interstitial featuring profiles of professional artists, such as blues musician Vaneese Thomas, New York City Ballet dancer Ramar Amasar, or Kann, as well as children creating art.
“The series is really about kids playing and having fun. It’s a world without cell phones, where kids can be creative without touching a screen,” Kann said. “Art and creativity and imagination are so important to our culture, and they’re not something that can always be taught in schools now,” she added. “Some people are intimidated by the concept of art. But it’s in every aspect of your life. More than creating a picture, it’s thinking about things differently. Problem solving, innovation, exploration—that’s what creativity is all about, and I like how the show is bringing that discussion into every living room.”
Kann, who serves as executive producer for Pinkalicious & Peterrific, is heavily involved in the production. During 14- to 16-hour days, she comes up with the premise for each show with the head writer and the other producer, reviews every script, and spends four hours per week talking with the team at 16 South, the studio in Ireland that is producing the animation, about how the series looks.
The animation company is so dedicated to replicating the sensibility of the books, she said, that they used one of Kann’s own dahlias as a model for an animated flower that blooms in one episode. “They’ve been able to capture everything about the books,” Kann said. “[The TV show] has the same palette, the same texture, the same vintage quality, the same proportion, and the same feeling.”
Kann also complimented the cast, noting that the team auditioned hundreds of actors for the roles of the children. “I wanted kids that were natural and untrained and sounded like regular kids,” she said. “They really bring it to life.”
The limitations in time and money associated with TV production preclude some of the detail for which the books are known, such as depicting a recipe sticking out of the mother’s apron. “We’re working on 80 episodes,” Kann said. “That’s a huge undertaking, and there’s only so much time that can be devoted to it.”
On the other hand, there are some benefits to being able to include music and movement, to which the books can only allude. It is easier to portray the imagination in a more surreal way, for instance, such as when Pink imagines glittering the entire universe with her glitter pen, something that would be difficult to capture as well in a book.
The collaborative nature of TV production also differs from the act of writing. “Everyone has their own vision of what Pinkalicious is,” Kann said. “With the books out there going on 12 years now, Pinkalicious has worked her way into people’s hearts and minds and she’s become very personal to them. My team has been really great in sticking to my version, but everyone brings their own perspective to it.”
Despite her current focus on the TV show, Kann is still working on the book series, which debuted in 2006. (Kann’s sister, Elizabeth Kann, co-authored the first two titles.) Earlier this month, her longtime publisher, HarperCollins, released Pinkalicious at the Fair, a Level 1 I Can Read! Title, and two more I Can Reads are due out this year: Pinkalicious and the Pirates in June, and Pinkalicious and the Amazing Sled Run in October.