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Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess - Review for Parents

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Sofia the First
Photo © Disney
Bottom line: Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess is a Disney TV movie that launches a new Sofia the First series for preschoolers. The show is contains some examples of mean/jealous behavior, but sends an overall positive message about understanding others' feelings and the importance of friendship and family.
TV Rating: TV-Y
Genre: Preschoolers
Guide age recommendation: 2-7
Network: Disney

Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess - Overview

Set in the storybook world of Enchancia (which looks very much like the village from Beauty and the Beast), little Sofia's life changes drastically when her mother marries King Roland II. Sofia goes from living a simple life with her mother, to being a full-fledged princess in a castle with two step-siblings: Amber and James.

The changes are exciting but difficult for Sofia, who sometimes longs for the days when it was just her and her mother. Sofia's biggest concern is an upcoming ball to be thrown in her honor. Sofia doesn't feel ready to be the center of attention, and she doesn't even know how to dance. But, the King assures her that her Princess Prep classes at the Royal Prep Academy will have her ready for the big event.

And, Sofia is not alone. Fauna, Flora and Merryweather (the fairies from Sleeping Beauty); the royal steward, Baileywick; and a group of woodland creatures help Sofia, and she even gets a visit from Cinderella herself. Sofia discovers that life in the castle isn't as easy as it would seem, but with help from her friends, a little patience and a dose of understanding, she will be just fine.

Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess - Guide Review for Parents

The TV movie Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess offers pretty animation, lots of little girls in gowns, talking animals, a visit from Cinderella and more that will delight preschool girls. While set in a storybook/fairytale setting with carriages drawn by flying horses, the child characters in the movie generally have updated speech and behaviors that will be very relatable for kids today.

Every princess stereotype you can think of is represented in the show, from fancy dresses to talking animals, elaborate balls and the princess/prince school: the Royal Prep Academy. What's unusual, is that Sofia's mother marries the king, and Sofia finds herself with a royal step-family, as opposed to the usual spin where a girl gets rid of the step-family and becomes royalty. Kids who are unfamiliar with the concept of a step-family may have questions about what that means, and those who have step-brothers or sisters will identify with Sofia's experience.

Some characters in the movie exhibit mean behavior. Sofia's step-sister Amber is jealous of Sofia and encourages her brother to play tricks on her. Amber embarrasses Sofia at school and tries to sabotage her efforts to get ready for the ball. We also see some examples of kids standing up for Sofia, and in the end, a visit from Cinderella helps both sisters think about how the other is feeling and work together to become close as sisters. The show sends a very positive overall message about finding strength in family and working to understand others and overcome differences.

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