BAFTA-winning and EMMY-nominated Belfast-based studio Sixteen South has announced that together with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, a worldleading international developer, producer, distributor, and licensor of children’s animated and live-action content, they have optioned and are co-developing and co-producing A Horse Named Steve, a new 2D animated series based on the acclaimed debut picture book by Toronto author-illustrator Kelly Collier. The 52 X 11 series will feature hilarious storylines while showing the importance of friendship, teamwork and appreciating one’s true self.
A laugh-out-loud tale of an endearingly self-absorbed horse, A Horse Named Steve topped “best book of the year” lists when it was released in 2017 by Canadian independent children’s publisher Kids Can Press, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Illustrated in lively blackand-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.”
Athena Georgaklis, VP of Nelvana Studios, adds, “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,” said Lisa Lyons Johnston, President and Publisher of Kids Can Press. “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 EMMYnominated actor 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, the premier global children’s publishing event held annually in Bologna, Italy. “It’s amazing to see how far Steve has come,” said author-illustrator Kelly 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.”