The fantastical universe of Tony DiTerlizzi’s middle grade trilogy WondLa will come to life via an animated series adaptation scheduled to release on AppleTV+ on June 28. The production is a collaboration between Apple and Skydance Animation.

WondLa follows Eva Nine, a girl who has lived underground with her robot Muthr for her entire life. When their underground bunker is destroyed, Eva has no choice but to escape above ground, and she’s shocked to find that there are no other humans but her. Eva scours the world to find her true home, even at dangerous costs.

The seven-episode season is executive produced by DiTerlizzi and Bobs Gannaway alongside Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell, Julie Kane-Ritsch, and Skydance Animation’s John Lasseter, David Ellison, and Dana Goldberg. Gannaway, Bob Snow, and Christian Magalhaes are the show’s head writers. The adaptation features Jeanine Mason as Eva, Teri Hatcher as Muthr (Desperate Housewives), Brad Garrett as Otto (Everybody Loves Raymond). Gary Anthony Williams (The Boondocks) as Rovender, Chiké Okonkwo (Birth of a Nation) as Besteel, D.C. Douglas (Star Trek) as Omnipod, and Alan Tudyk (Moana) as Cadmus Pryde.

WondLa’s journey to the screen has been a long time in the making. The Search for WondLa, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2010, was a project that “Hollywood has had its eye on since the beginning,” DiTerlizzi told PW. In 2011, Paramount announced a forthcoming adaptation, a live-action movie that didn’t come to fruition. Years later, Skydance Animation, a branch under media production company Skydance, was in its early stages, and Bill Damaschke, president of animation and family entertainment at the time, reached out to DiTerlizzi about the potential for an animated series, which DiTerlizzi said “had not occurred to me.”

Gannaway, who has years of experience under Disney working on projects such as Inside Out and 101 Dalmatians: The Series, joined the team as showrunner, and in 2021 Apple announced that WondLa was finally getting an adaptation, with three seasons confirmed.

DiTerlizzi was particularly excited about seeing how his universe would translate to animation. “I grew up watching Disney and Don Bluth, and Hayao Miyazaki films,” DiTerlizzi said. “Films for the last 20 to 30 years from Pixar, or Disney, or Dreamworks.... I feel like children enjoy watching them, but so do the adults who are there with them. That's the same audience I’m trying to reach with my books.”

Gannaway said he “welcomed the challenge” of bringing WondLa to life “as it was more ambitious than anything I had worked on in the past. Because this is an epic journey, the story is always asking for new environments and new characters,” he said in an interview. “This is a big challenge because we have to realize all those elements. Hundreds of hours went into the design, textures, and colors of each aspect of the show. We even had a devoted costume designer.”

WondLa isn’t DiTerlizzi’s first rodeo with having his work adapted. His Spiderwick Chronicles series has been adapted into both a live-action TV show and a film. DiTerlizzi said he has had a “mixed experience” with the role of executive producer, though this venture proved different.

“Tony was right alongside during all aspects of the project,” Gannaway said. “I was constantly inspired by his willingness to explore new ideas, whether it was design or story.”

For this project, DiTerlizzi said he was “very involved” and was able to work with the team via Zoom and trips to Los Angeles over the course of four years. On one of these visits, DiTerlizzi had the opportunity to hear his characters come to life during recording sessions.

“To hear Jeanine Mason bring Eva Nine to life was astounding,” DiTerlizzi said. “Her performance ran the gambit of bubbly and funny, to sad and angry, to snarky and endearing. You just fall in love with this main character, which is so essential to any story.”

As DiTerlizzi looks ahead to celebrating the new release, he hopes this adaptation can offer the same thing as his books: connection. “I hope that it’s a shared experience, and that it’s not just kids watching this alone,” he said. “I think it’s about the stuff that connects us as human beings. It’s what I strive for in my books. And I know it’s certainly what the team strives for in the show.”