Donkey Hodie Delivers Messages of Perseverance & Resilience
By Kristin Brzoznowski
The whimsical puppet series Donkey Hodie, produced by Fred Rogers Productions and Spiffy Pictures, debuted earlier this week on PBS KIDS in the U.S. The show follows the adventures of Donkey Hodie, granddaughter of the original Donkey Hodie character from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and is inspired by the quirky, funny side of Fred Rogers.
“Paul Siefken, president and CEO of Fred Rogers Productions, and I had an idea to do a preschool show about perseverance that focused on a little donkey with big dreams,” says Ellen Doherty, chief creative officer at Fred Rogers Productions and executive producer of Donkey Hodie, which she also developed. “When we decided it should be a puppet show, we called Adam Rudman and David Rudman at Spiffy Pictures to see if they’d like to work with us on it. Happily, they said yes.”
“We were so honored when Fred Rogers Productions approached us to develop a show together about Donkey Hodie, one of Fred Rogers’ original characters,” recalls Adam Rudman, Spiffy Pictures’ co-founder and co-creator and executive producer of Donkey Hodie. “The name cracked us up. We were immediately in. We started with a deep dive into Fred Rogers’ archives. As we learned more about Fred’s quirkier side and discovered all of these other funny characters he created, the more ideas we had for developing this show.”
The colorful series is set in the land of Someplace Else, created by Rogers on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and targets kids 3 to 5 with social-emotional learning. The central character, Donkey Hodie, is described by Doherty as “really fun and optimistic. She’s a loyal friend who will move mountains—and giant lemons!—to help her pals. But she’s not perfect; I think kids will relate to Donkey’s struggles to persevere even when it feels like there’s no hope of success.”
“Like kids, Donkey is bursting with hope and dreams, and she does everything in her power to make those dreams come true, which is also a great example of how the character will be a role model for young viewers,” adds Rudman. “Donkey is also such a funny and endearing character that kids (and their parents) will root for her to succeed, and laugh themselves silly along the way.”
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