Bronx Girl Stars in the Animated Series | THIRTEEN

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Christina Chevalier | September 30, 2021

Alma’s Way is a Fred Rogers production for PBS.

Alma Road airs at 8:30 am every morning but Saturdays on TREIZE. See the schedule for TREIZE, WLIW21 and NJ PBS.

The Bronx is bursting with color, Latin cultures – and even the noise of the subway – in new animated series Alma Road, a PBS KIDS series premiering Monday, October 4. Alma Rivera is a six year old Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her parents, Mami and Papi; younger brother, Junior; his Abuelo; and their dog, Chacho. Playing the voice of Alma is a real little girl from the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx – Summer Rose Castillo. (Read more about Summer Rose and her family in this Bronx Times article by Jason Cohen).

The show is created by someone who grew up in the South Bronx: Puerto Rican actress Sonia Manzano – known to millions of Americans as “Maria” of Sesame Street, the iconic children’s program set in New York City. Like Rita Moreno before her, Manzano was a trailblazer for Latin actresses, becoming one of the first Latino characters in a national series when she joined Sesame Street in 1971. Manzano graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in New York (notoriety!).

Infused with Manzano’s humor, the cartoon series helps children recognize their own power to think as Alma, a proud and confident girl, learns to express herself, to make tough decisions, to help her friends. And much more. In each episode, Alma speaks directly to young viewers with asides and her “Think Through” moments, where she stops, reflects and deals. She embodies optimism and determination, showing that if she focuses on a problem, she can solve it.

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A cartoon image of a little girl holding a dog.  Behind her is an orange house and a man and a woman.  The man is holding a little boy on his shoulder.

The Rivera family, including Alma, his parents and his brother Junior.

Each episode presents different aspects of Latin cultures through language, food, Latin music and customs. The first week episode titles include “No-go Mofongo” and “Bomba or Baseball”. All viewers will see how other families are both similar and different from theirs. The music is the “backbeat” of the series and includes traditional Puerto Rican styles like Plena, Bomba and Salsa as well as other Latino genres such as Cuban sound and Colombian cumbia.

So of course, Alma Road has an original catchy theme song. New Yorker Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote it with collaborator Bill Sherman, the composer behind Miranda’s Broadway hits. In the heights (located in Washington Heights) and Hamilton (in 2016, 20,000 New York public high school students watched it on Broadway with their school). Perform the Alma Road song are Flaco Navaja, a singer and poet born and raised in the Bronx, and Summer Rose Castillo.

The series is produced by Fred Rogers Productions (creator of the award-winning PBS series KIDS Daniel Tiger Quarter, Ankle + Cat, and Odd squad) and will be available in English and Spanish on all PBS KIDS platforms.

For parents and educators

Alma’s Way activities and after-school programs

Games inspired by Alma Road will be available in English and Spanish on pbskids.org and on the free PBS KIDS Games app. Resources for parents in Spanish and English, including tips and practical activities to extend learning at home, will be available on the PBS KIDS for Parents site, and PBS LearningMedia will offer tools for teachers, including video clips, games, educational tips, and printable activities.

Beginning October 4, educational programming for K-5 children will air between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on WLIW21 and air on demand there and on THIRTEEN.org. Learn more about Superstars After School Programs.

Sonia from the Bronx

A red puppet character with a big orange nose and big round eyes at the top of her head sits at a table with a woman in a red dress who leaves the side of her face on her fist.  There is a cup of coffee in front of her and books in front of the puppet.  The woman seems to not like something

Sonia Manzano as Maria on Sesame Street, next to Muppet Elmo’s character. Courtesy of the Sesame Street Workshop.

To share the life of Sonia Manzano who grew up in the Bronx, her career as an actress, her Emmy Award-winning writing and screenplay, Adelante presents a segment on Manzano, including his personal photos, archive footage and interviews after his retirement from Sesame Street, in which she acted for 44 years.

In Sonia Manzano’s interview with THIRTEEN MetroFocus, she talks about growing up with domestic violence in her home, which she described in her award-winning memoir, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx”. She also shares how she continues to help children beyond her time with Sesame Street.

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