Sofia the First: The Floating Palace

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
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Cute story, but don't miss the cool puppet-show tool.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to tell their own stories and express themselves creatively as they narrate their own puppet shows and move the characters in a scene. They'll improve reading skills by hearing the text read expressively, and they can read along or read silently as well. They'll learn to embrace differences and see that all families, no matter how they look, love each other. Kids can practice retelling the story using the puppets and scenes, or they can extend their learning by creating new stories or alternative scenarios. As a book, Sofia the First: Floating Palace can help develop reading skills, but the creation tool really scores for a learning opportunity for kids.

Ease of Play

The book's default setting advances pages automatically and narrates the story (but the narration and auto-page advance can be turned off in the settings if parents want to read aloud themselves). Figures in the puppet theater move easily, and adding narration is easy for preschoolers.

Violence & Scariness

The mermaid queen wants to sink the humans' ship (which Sofia's family is on) but is persuaded to give Sofia a chance to have them move. Sofia's mermaid friend is captured by an evil sea monster, and Sofia tries to help her rather than have her family move the ship. There's a dramatic race against time and a fight with a sea monster that might frighten little ones, but all is well in the end.

Sexy Stuff

Disney Jr.'s Sofia the First includes a line of toys to go along with the television show and movies. Links to other Disney apps are included in the passcode-protected parent area.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sofia the First: The Floating Palace includes a book about the Disney Junior show character's adventure with mermaids and a creation tool for kids to narrate and animate their own puppet shows. The story includes an evil sea monster who captures Oona, Sofia's mermaid friend, but the scary parts are very brief and end happily. Positive messages about family and friendship and accepting differences tie it all together. The puppet-show creation tool is really easy for preschoolers to use, and they'll be able to create some fun retellings of the story on their own.

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What's it about?

The book is based on an episode of the show wherein Sofia's family is vacationing on a floating palace. She helps an injured mermaid, and her enchanted amulet changes her into a mermaid, too. The mermaids don't feel safe around humans, and the mermaid queen is planning to create a storm to force the floating palace out of the cover or possibly sink it. Sofia convinces her to wait and give her time to tell her family to move on, but her mermaid friend is captured by an evil sea monster who wants her enchanted comb. Sofia stops to help her friend again, and the mermaid queen is about to conjure the storm. Sofia and her friends defeat the sea monster and stop the storm. The human and mermaid families meet, and the girls become friends forever. Kids also can create their own scenes, moving around puppet characters and adding their own narration.

Is it any good?

Fans of Sofia the First and The Little Mermaid will adore the sweet story and its positive messages about friendship and family. Compared to some other interactive storybooks, it may feel bland -- more like a traditional book than an interactive book. The creation tool, though, is the heart of the app. It's easy to use -- kids simply choose the scene, hit the red record button, and then move the characters while they talk. They hit the button again to stop recording and then can watch their movies. The movies also are saved on the device to show off later. Kids can retell the story or they can create their own stories.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk about how both families love each other. Even though they're different, the love is the same.

  • Work together to retell the story using the puppet-show tool, and then create new stories using the characters and scenes.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to create

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