Random House Children Books and Hasbro have partnered on a publishing program for Kiya and the Kimoja Heroes.
The action-adventure animated pre-school series just launched in the US on Disney Junior, with the first four episodes now streaming on Disney+. The brand-new publishing lineup based on the kids’ series will launch in summer 2024.
“We are so excited to finally be able to talk about Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes,” said Hasbro VP of Global Publishing Michael Kelly. “The show’s great themes and strong characters will resonate broadly with kids and families, and we know they will want to continue their engagement with storytelling through books.”
Kelly also says this is the first licensing deal for the Kiya franchise. “We are thrilled that the first official licensing partnership for Kiya is in the publishing category, with Random House Children’s Books leading the charge with a variety of formats for our newest fans.”
Kiya is a seven-year-old African girl, whose passions in life are dancing and martial arts, which also become her superpowers. When Kiya and her two best friends, Motsie and Jay, put on their headbands adorned with mystical Kimoja crystals, they transform into superheroes and can perform special moves inspired by their passions, like Kiya’s “pirouette POW.”
Kiya’s world features a diverse cast of characters inspired by the landscape, natural beauty, and culture of Southern Africa, and focuses on themes of community, empathy and unity.
It’s also one of the leading examples of the rise in children’s animation in Africa, supported by companies like Hasbro and Disney.
African animators are enjoying a rapid rise in popularity and acceptance both at home and globally, thanks to a new generation of artists who draw on the region’s deep archive of culture and history.
The studio Triggerfish from South Africa, which was involved in the creation of Kiya, is among the new companies driving this trend, having recently been involved in an anthology project with Disney called Kizazi Moto.
The anthology was designed so that Triggerfish as the leading studio would work with other artists and animation studios to put the film together.
Kizazi Moto was conceived by South Africa’s Triggerfish, which is serving as the lead studio on the anthology and will also work with several other animation houses from around the world to put the film together. Disney and Triggerfish also provided mentorship for the artists. On the Kizazi Moto project, for example, the artists were mentored by Peter Ramsey, who worked on the superb animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as well as the creative teams at Triggerfish and Disney.
But Hasbro is the one that turned the African show into a hit program, pushing the boundaries for African animators and storytellers.
“This show is the newest representation of Hasbro and eOne’s commitments to illustrate the belief that rich, varied perspectives generate the best ideas and reflect diversity, equity and inclusion across their brands and play experiences,” the company says. “Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes is their latest endeavor to stand up for children by creating a world where every child experiences hope, kindness and joy.”