DVD Review: Sofia the First – The Secret Library

Chances are, if you have toddlers in your life, you know who Sofia the First is. In steady rotation on Disney Junior, Sofia has become a hallmark of the network. With princesses as popular as ever, this is a character every little girl loves to watch, and one who is destined for television longevity.

After becoming princess of the fictional kingdom of Enchancia, Sofia uses her title to always do the right thing. Embodying only the best values and characteristics, she is a terrific role model for children. With a magical amulet that gives her the power to speak with animals, as well as summon classic Disney princesses (synergy!), Sofia’s adventures are not only fun, but inspirational in the ways of the best children’s programming.

Newly released to DVD, The Secret Library is a collection of four episodes. Two of them are self-contained, and two connect to a new mythological thread involving, as one would guess, a secret library. The two standalone episodes are the “Princess Adventure Club,” and “The Princess Ballet.” The other two episodes are “The Secret Library,” which features Brave’s Merida, and Olaf and the Tale of Miss Nettle, featuring everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf.

Obviously, the big draw of this set is Olaf. Sure, kids love Merida, but there’s just something special about Olaf, and any opportunity to see this beloved character (voiced again by Josh Gad) is a real treat. By introducing the concept of The Secret Library, the writers have employed a narrative device wherein Sofia becomes the “Story Keeper,” bestowing Sofia with the responsibility of ensuring stories turn out right.

In introducing this narrative arc, the writers feature an extended sequence where Sofia floats down a river that winds through scenes depicting the instantly iconic looks of classic Disney films such as Snow White, Cinderella, Princess and the Frog, Pocahontas, etc. Subtle it’s not, but this definitively reinforces the idea of the world in which this series takes place, and never lets you forget that you are watching a Disney program.

In doing this, the writers have allowed for a great deal of narrative freedom where they can incorporate pre-existing stories into Sofia’s world. They were already doing this with the aid of her amulet, but this is a new approach to keep things fresh, and I appreciate the constant evolution of the way these stories are told, even if they remain somewhat the same thematically.

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Overall, these are great shows for kids.  However, these same episodes are rerun on Disney Junior constantly. That being said, it’s still nice to have access at any time, and if your child is a fan of Sofia, these episodes definitely represent what is best about the show. There are no extras, and you’re basically just buying four episodes, but they’re enjoyable, and will be a welcome addition to the library of any family with young children.

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