'Molly of Denali' Is 'Unique' But Relatable for all Kids, Says EP

John Russell
Preview PBS

Look out, Dora, there's a new little lady coming to TV to educate the under-8 set. Meet Molly (voiced by Sovereign Bill), a 10-year-old Native Alaskan girl who's setting out to teach youngsters how to use and interpret informational texts such as guidebooks, maps and weather apps in Molly of Denali. 

Molly and her friends employ those literacy skills to solve real-world problems, like learning how to canoe, in their fictional village. "Alaska is a rich setting for all sorts of challenges," says executive producer Dorothea Gillim. "How to get a moose off the runway so your bush plane can land, how to make bug repellent from plants when you left your spray at home, how to make Alaskan ice cream made from moose fat." The children also learn the importance of reliable sources.

Molly is the first national kids show to feature a Native Alaskan lead character. Developed with the help of Alaskan Native advisers, producers and voice actors, the series spotlights cultural values like sharing, respecting elders and caring for the land, animals and one another, explains creative producer Princess Daazhraii Johnson. 

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The hope, Gillim adds, is that while viewers discover what modern life is like in rural Alaska, they'll also realize something else: "How it's unique and, in many ways, similar to kids' lives everywhere."

Molly of DenaliSeries Premiere, Monday, July 15, PBS Kids (check local listings at pbs.org)