Charles the CollectorPBS Kids’ latest series about a hearty raccoon will be the first led by a character on the autism spectrum.
Created by New York Times bestselling illustrator and author Zachariah OHora, the animated TV show will celebrate the different ways children think and express themselves, helping them develop a sense of self and community. The series is aimed at children aged 4 to 8 and will premiere in the fall of 2024.
“My hope for Carl and his diverse group of Fuzzytown friends is that they will inspire both neurodiverse and neurotypical children to foster a world where neurodiversity is not only recognized as a benefit to society, but celebrated as an example of full spectrum of what it means. means being human,” says OHora, the show’s creator and executive producer.
Produced by Fuzzytown Productions and the studio behind it Donkey HodieSpiffy photos, Charles the Collector follows the daily adventures of Carl, a raccoon who likes to collect things. Across the spectrum, Carl’s talents have created an impressive collection for almost any occasion – whether it’s the perfect fake mustache or a soft hug for a friend in need. Those same talents also help him solve problems with his friends in the neighborhood.
A raccoon whose energy matches his penchant for logic and precision, Charles the Collector will see the titular character tackle his anxiety in new situations and tackle problems when things don’t go according to plan. With a laser focus on pursuing his goals, impressive attention to detail and a distinctive way of seeing and experiencing the world, Carl will learn with the audience that, like all his friends, there is no right or wrong way to to be himself.
“Charles the Collector values inclusion and empathy while modeling relationship building and social skills development wrapped in humor, heart and incredible visual design,” said Sara DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager of PBS Kids. “We’re excited for kids to get to know Carl and his group of friends, who believe the best experiences come when we honor the things that make each of us unique.”
That group of friends will include characters that are both neurodiverse and neurotypical, illustrating the breadth of traits, behaviors, learning preferences and challenges that young viewers can experience. Carl’s inner circle includes his best friend, Sheldon, a beaver described by the series as a flexible thinker who not only has a gift for connecting people, but also looks out for the underdog.
Another is Lotta the fox – a calm and confident autistic artist and musician who can experience hypersensitivity to loud noises, strong smells and certain food textures. Then there are Nico and Arugula from Fuzzytown, twin rabbit sisters who, although they look the same, are very different in personality. And finally, there’s Carl’s hyperactive and impulsive squirrel friend Forrest, who has a nut allergy but is always up for an adventure or two.
To bring the residents of Fuzzytown together, Charles the Collector turned to Emmy and Annie nominee Yowza! Animation studio for the series’ animation, and a production team of neurodiverse and neurotypical writers, consultants and voice talent.
Among the show’s advisors are Dr. Geraldine Oades-Sese, Ph.D, a licensed psychologist, author of children’s books and adjunct associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Dr. Stephen Shore, professor at Adelphi University and adjunct professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; and Deborah Farmer Kris, MA, educator, author, parenting columnist and consultant for PBS Kids for Parents.
“As an autistic person, I continue to be amazed at the level of detail and effort the team puts into ensuring that Carl and Lotta are authentic to the autistic experience,” Shore said in a statement. “Besides being an interesting series, Charles the Collector will be a great tool for both autistic and non-autistic people to understand autism.”
“The show doesn’t shy away from having its main characters experience common mental health issues such as anxiety, sadness and the need for acceptance and belonging,” added Oades-Sese, of the show they say teaches more than just empathy and understanding. and compassion, but how you can extend that to others. “It’s time for a children’s program Charles the Collectorthat embraces the diversity of children’s experiences and showcases an inclusive and relatable world.”
Caroline Bandolik serves as the series’ supervising producer, with Jesse McMahon serving as content producer. Adam Rudman, co-founder of Spiffy Pictures, is head writer. Contributing writers include TV and picture book author Samantha Berger; attorney and actress Ava X. Rigelhaupt; writer, director and puppeteer Joey Mazzarino; as well as children’s book authors Kelly DiPucchio and Bob Shea.
“In today’s world, inclusivity and representation in programming are more important than ever, especially for the youngest viewers,” said Caroline Bandolik, supervising producer and vice president of production for Spiffy Pictures. “We immediately fell in love with this beautiful Fuzzytown world that Zachariah created, full of compelling and relatable characters and funny, heartfelt stories.”