Dora’s growing up. Q&A with creators Chris Gifford and Valerie Walsh Valdes

Fifteen years after she first debuted on Nickelodeon, Dora is growing up. Nick debuts new series Dora and Friends: Into the City! on Monday, Aug. 18, at 8p; the show will run weekdays at noon during the preschool block alongside the original Dora the Explorer and feature the iconic Latina living in a city, attending school, spending time with her peer group and giving back to the community. CynKids sat down with creators Chris Gifford and Valerie Walsh Valdes (Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!) to get the scoop.

Double duty Dora
Gifford: The fact that the shows were running [simultaneously] was a big concern of ours, so we did a lot of research to see how kids would feel about Dora being older and younger at the same time. We found they don’t think about the logic of it – they see the shows as entirely separate. Even though she’s a little older, Dora is a peer to them. When we asked how old she is, kids usually said, “She’s my age.”

Cross-over possibilities
Gifford: Will Dora’s rain forest friends come visit her in the city? It may happen. We expected kids to say, “Where’s Boots and Swiper?” but they’re very interested in the new story and they know they can watch the other show, too. But I don’t think Dora has left those friends behind. We have a lot of shows to write and I can’t imagine we aren’t going to have one or two with some crossover.

New show, new angle?
Valdes: We actually have a lot of the same curriculum, but one thing we did was add a lot of emotional intelligence into the stories. How you relate to your friends and family is such a hot button these days. We get to see her interact with them and put herself in others’ place, in addition to the ABCs and 123s that are part of a preschool curriculum. The other piece that’s big is community service. We’ve always thought about who Dora would be if she were a little bit older, and community service seemed like something she would gravitate to.

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