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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Elena of Avalor features Disney's first Latin-inspired princess and incorporates many aspects of Latin culture, including music, dance, and some Spanish language. Elena is an excellent role model -- imperfect and impulsive but eager, determined, and well-meaning. A few scenes of sorcery might be scary for youngsters, and one results in the presumed death of two characters (though it's not shown and only alluded to). Expect strong themes about friendship, family relationships, and respecting other people's experience and knowledge, as well as honesty, fairness, and kindness. This funny, heartwarming series is a worthy addition to the Disney princess collection.
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What's the story?
ELENA OF AVALOR centers on 16-year-old Elena (voiced by Aimee Carrero), a princess who recently saved her kingdom from the clutches of an evil sorceress after having been frozen in time in a magical amulet for decades. Now that she's old enough to take her rightful place as queen of Avalor, Elena feels ready for the job ... until she realizes just how difficult it is to rule a kingdom. Heeding some great advice, Elena calls on her wise and kindly grandparents, a seasoned chancellor named Esteban (Christian Lanz), and her level-headed new friend Naomi (Jillian Rose Reed) to counsel her as she takes the reins of her beloved home. And lest she still need a helping hand, she can lean on her clever younger sister, Isabel (Jenna Ortega); her friend Mateo (Joseph Haro); her spirit animal, Zuzo (Keith Ferguson); and the talking, flying jaquins who are regulars at the castle.
Is it any good?
This Disney princess proves that when it comes to spunky royal teens with surprises up their sleeves, there's always room for one more. Elena's eagerness, enthusiasm, integrity, and determination make her a welcome addition to the existing consort, and she has an independent streak that's quite appealing. She's not one to shy away from a fight or an adventure, but despite the fact that she takes pride in embracing her destiny under her own power, she reaches out for help from others when she needs it. From a parent's standpoint, she's the total package when it comes to a role model, especially for girls.
But Elena of Avalor is so much more than its titular character alone. It's a real gem of an ensemble cast, from the inviting presence of Elena's abuela to the wisecracking trio of magical jaquins who are always afoot. Friendship and fun abound in Elena's adventures, and the show's spectacular incorporation of Latin influences through music, language, and scenery is a welcome change in kids' programming as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Elena of Avalor a good role model. Does she always make the right decisions on the first try? How does making mistakes help her learn? What qualities do your kids look for in role models? Who are some of theirs?
In what ways is Elena's Latin heritage represented in this series? What is your family's ethnic background? Does this play a role in your traditions?
Elena faces many challenges in assuming her role as queen. How does she demonstrate a willingness to learn from others? Why is it important to respect the knowledge and experience other people have?
- Premiere date: July 22, 2016
- Cast: Aimee Carrero, Keith Ferguson, Jenny Ortega
- Network: Disney Junior
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Integrity
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: DVD, Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
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