Book Review “Nella the Princess Knight” by Christine Ricci

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Nella the Princess Knight” is the latest new animated preschool series to come out of Nick Jr. This show quickly became one of my 5 year old’s favorite series. The show is cheesy and drives me nuts personally but my girl loves it and that is all that matters to me. This is the first book in the “Nella the Princess Knight” series and tells the story of “Nella’s Unicorn Rescue”. Since receiving this book, it has become a staple for my daughter at bedtime. If your kids has discovered this show I would recommend the book for sure…and if you haven’t discovered the show my daughter would highly recommend it.

Keeping it with the family, the story is written by Christine Ricci, which is a curriculum consultant on Nick Jr. shows like “Blaze and the Monster Machines” and “Team Umizoomi”. The show is cute and works well for kids because it focuses on relationship development and positive messaging for preschoolers and promotes them to be courageous. That is a message that I want my daughter to have as she is soaking up everything around her and growing up. I look forward to future books from Random House Books for Young Readers and I hope they continue this series for “Nella the Princess Knight” for a while!

DVD Review “Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy”

Number of discs: 1
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 24, 2015
Run Time: 114 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Sofia The First is going on another adventure with her step-sister Amber in “The Curse of Princess Ivy”, this was a decent special episode. It’s highlight was easily the special guest Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore from Disney’s “Tangled”). This show amazes me how it is able to steal my 2.5 year old’s attention until the end credits when she says “Play Sofia again?” Additional episodes included on this DVD are “The Amulet of Avalor”, “Princess Butterfly” and “The Emerald Key”. Also as an added bonus, you will get a very cute butterfly necklace that gets color when exposed in the sunlight. A must have for any “Sofia the First” fan!

Official Premise: The revelation of a spellbinding secret sets in motion the most thrilling adventure in the history of Sofia the First! After learning that the Amulet of Avalor is magical, Amber snatches it while Sofia is sleeping. Unfortunately, she unwittingly unleashes a curse that summons evil Princess Ivy, who threatens to destroy the amulet, seize the crown and turn the entire kingdom black-and-white! Amber and Sofia soar through the skies on a flying dragon – aided by special guest Rapunzel – as they embark on a daring quest to defeat Ivy, break the curse and save Enchancia. Packed with high-flying excitement, plus three more song-filled episodes, The Curse of Princess Ivy shows how love, trust, and unselfishly putting others’ needs first can truly work magic!

 

Vinyl LP Review “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Princess Celestia”

“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Princess Celestia”
Princess Celestia Variant Edition
Vinyl LP
Limited Edition
Tracks: 14
Label: Spacelab9

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This Hot Topic Exclusive Vinyl LP is a “best of” collection by composer Daniel Ingram including fan favorite tracks from the hit series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” such as “The Gala Song,” “Love Is In Bloom” and “Becoming Popular.” This specific LP is an exclusive Princess Celestia picture disc and includes two bonus tracks. There is also a Princess Luna Variant Edition available as wel. This is a Limited edition release, so if you are a die-hard “”My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” fan you should make you way to the closest Hot Topic ASAP!

My daughter absolutely loved seeing this picture disc, she kept flipping it over and looking double sided images. I was a little disappointed that the fun and catchy theme song was not on this record. “May the Best Pet Win” is definitely a fun track though. “Apples to the Core” and “Babs Seed” are the two included exclusive bonus tracks. The songs sound great and are well represented here. Lastly, this only comes in a plastic see through sleeve, like most Hot Topic exclusives. I would have loved to see then get a nice cover jacket. Still a great buy!

Side A
Twilight’s Failure Song
Love is in Bloom
The Flim Flam Cider Song
Becoming Popular
May the Best Pet Win
Art of the Dress
Ballad of the Crystal Ponies

Side B
Find a Way
Raise this Barn
The Laughter Song
At the Gala
Make a Wish
Apples to the Core*
Babs Seed*

Book Review “Disney Princess: Perfect Princess Christmas”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Disney Princess
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Disney Princess: Perfect Princess Christmas” features four Christmas-themed stories with our favorite Disney princess: Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana. I am surprised but my daughter, who is two, was not terribly blown away with this. She loves Ariel and Tiana but still didn’t really latch on to this one. The stories are cute and certainly get you into the Christmas spirit. The illustrations are colorful and looks great. The book also comes with a free download of the Royal Christmas app for iPhone and iPad. Maybe we’ll try again next year and see if anything changes. I am sure others will love this book though.

Official Premise: Now little girls can celebrate the holidays with the Disney Princesses! From crackling fires and snowy sleigh rides to beachside gatherings and New Orleans feasts, each princess does Christmas her own way. These four Christmas-themed stories star Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana, and their family and friends as they deck their castle halls. With gorgeous illustrations on every page, plus a foil-stamped jacket, this 96-page storybook is sure to be an instant classic.

Book Review “Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Sofia the First
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: October 7, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

What little girl doesn’t love Sofia the First. This show started when my daughter was about 6 months old and I knew that Disney Junior was going to make a nice mark on the Disney Princess market with this character. Fast forward about two years and this show is easily one of Disney Junior’s biggest entities, especially with the girls. The books are just as amazing as the show itself. They showcase some of the series’ biggest episodes usually featuring a classic Disney Princess.

“Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy” Official Premise: Sofia faces grave danger when she faces Princess Ivy, a once exiled princess who is determined to take over Enchancia and turn the whole kingdom black and white. Sofia and Amber must work together to save their family and their kingdom!

Like I mentioned, this story is eventually going to make it to the small screen as a Disney Junior movie event airing Fall 2014. It features the now classic Disney Princess Rapunzel from “Tangled”. This book like previous Sofia books feature some really beautifully illustrated artwork within this hardcover jacketed picture book. The book like past in the series also includes a downloadable Disney eBook of the story for your iPad/iPhone. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next. There are plenty of great Disney Princess still left!

Book Review “The Art of Princess Mononoke”

Series: The Art of Princess Mononoke
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Release Date: August 26, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Princess Mononoke” was the first Studio Ghibli film that I saw in theaters and one of my favorites. This film is so epic and just visually outstanding.  Even though, I am a huge fan of this film, I have never checked out “The Art of” this film. Luckily, Viz Media is re-issuing this in their line of Studio Ghibli artbooks. The book includes fantastic interviews, concept sketches, and finished animation cels from this animated classic.

I grew up watching films like “Castle in the Sky” and “My Neighbor Totoro” but “Princess Mononoke” was the first Studio Ghibli film from Hayao Miyazaki to break out with American audiences. This film really exploded by interest in animated kids outside of Disney films. There are literally hundreds of images from preliminary sketches to dynamic animation cels. If you love “Princess Mononoke”, Then I cannot recommend this book any more. Plus kudos to Viz for delivering this gorgeous full color art cover, which is simply gorgeous!

Book Review “Disney Princess: Dazzling Moments”

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2
Series: Disney Princess
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Reader’s Digest
Release Date: August 26, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

What little girl doesn’t like Disney Princesses. “Disney Princess: Dazzling Moments” is a real win for any little girl because it is not just a storybook but it also comes with a snow globe…that’s right a snow globe. This book features stories from our favorites princesses Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora, Tiana, Jasmine, and Belle. The books also includes seven press-out cards that can be inserted to change the scene inside the snow globe.

The stories focus around Cinderella’s magical transformation, Aurora’s kiss with Prince Phillip, Tiana kissing the frog, the Beast becoming the Prince, Cinderella’s wedding, or Ariel emerging from the water in her beautiful gown to be reunited with Prince Eric. What I also like is that you are able to put in your own photographs of family or friends into the glitter globe. This to me makes the purchase worth it alone.

Book Review “Disney Princess Royal Treasury: Read-and-Play Storybook”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-and-Play Storybook
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Disney Press; Har/Psc edition (July 29, 2014)

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Disney Princess Royal Treasury: Read-and-Play Storybook” is a very pretty book. It is a 4-in-1 padded storybook that features stories for our favorite princess (or I should say specifically my daughters) Ariel, Aurora, Rapunzel, and Tiana.

Official Premise: Rescue a sacred dolphin with Ariel; go on an adventure with Rapunzel and Maximus; befriend a baby dragon with Aurora, and spend an evening with Tiana and Stella the dog in this 4-in-1 storybook

If the four stories aren’t enough to draw you in, like most of Disney’s books there is a code included to download the Disney Princess Royal Salon app. It is a very cute app and allow you to dress up and style your favorite princesses!

Book Review “Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty Read-Along Storybook and CD”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Read-Along Storybook and CD
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: July 29, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Sleeping Beauty” is such a great story and one of my favorite. It also houses on of Disney best villains to date, “Maleficent”. This latest Read-Along Storybook and CD relives the classic animated film. You follow along as Aurora grows up with the good fairies, meets the prince of her dreams, and overcomes Maleficent’s evil curse. If you are looking to introduce your kids to “Sleeping Beauty”, this would be a good way to ease them in before watching the film or to enjoy after the film.

The CD itself is quite impressive since it feature real character voices and sound effects, which both add so much to the story. This actually feels like a big production and allow you to enjoy the book with a more visual aspect. My daughter has this Disney Princess CD player/jewelry chest above in her room and we have taken advantage of this storybook-and-CD set many times in the last weeks and I am sure it is only the beginning.

Book Review “Disney Princess: Dear Princess”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 2, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

What two year old doesn’t love Disney Princess? “Dear Princess” is a great idea for a new kids book. It features recent princesses like Rapunzel, Tiana, Merida as well as the classics like Belle and Ariel. I also really like the design of the book since the letters really feel like actual letters. Very clever and extremely cute as well. A must for any real princess.

Official Premise: Ever wonder what you’d find inside a princess’s mailbox? How about a letter from her evil stepmother? A review from a food critic who loved her restaurant? A message in a bottle from down under the sea? Join the Disney Princesses in this fun, enchanting book featuring mail written to and from Rapunzel, Tiana, Merida, Belle, and more! Each princess’s story includes a royal letter to fold open and enjoy!

Book Reviews “Disney Princess Read-and-Sing: “Sleeping Beauty & Tangled”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-and-Sing
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: July 29, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

With the success of the live-action “Maleficent”, “Sleeping Beauty” has stepped back in the spotlight again, along with Disney re-releasing the animated classic on Blu-ray also. The first of the two new Disney Princess Read-and-Sing is of course “Sleeping Beauty. The storybook contains six Sleeping Beauty tales. These are great a lot of fun. My two year old knows the character Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty but she has never seen the film, so this book was a great introduction.

The second new “Disney Princess Read-and-Sing is “Tangled”, which features contains six Rapunzel tales. Now on the other side, this is one of my two year old’s all-time favorite films. So these tales have already become a must read each night before bedtime. So we discuss the read but not the sing. Each of these books also come with three downloadable songs from the movies. “For Sleeping Beauty”, there is “Hail to the Princess Aurora,” “Do You Hear That?” and “An Unusual Prince/Once Upon a Dream” and from “Tangled” there is When Will My Life Begin?” “I’ve Got a Dream,” and “I See the Light.”

I love the blend of the music within theses books. We know these stories so well and their songs that accompany them. They are timeless and continue to inspire and lives thanks due to parents introducing them to their children. These are great books and I can’t wait to see which classics Disney plans to adapt next. May I suggest “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid”, if anyone is listening 😉

Blu-ray Review “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”

Actors: Elle Deets, Yuri Lowenthal
Directors: Richard Rich
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“The Swan Princess” started back as a 1994 animated fantasy musical film based on the ballet “Swan Lake”. Fast forward to 2014 and we get “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”, which is the fifth film in the series and which also celebrates the 20th anniversary. The film is cute but the animation is low-grade and it couldn’t keep our attention for the short 80 minutes.

Richard Rich has been behind this series from the beginning and has directed and produced each and everyone of these sequels. He is also behind the sequels in the “Alpha and Omega” series. You have to give him props for keeping it going for five films now but I think it might be time to call it quits on this series. These stories are all stand-alone, so I am sure he can keep it going for twelve movies like “The Land Before Time” but this will probably be the last one I watch.

Official Premise: Shortly after the Royal Family adopts a young girl named Alise, she is taken away into the forest. Princess Odette, Prince Derek and their woodland friends, Jean-Bob the Frog and Speed the Turtle, must work together to find a way to bring her home to the castle.

Sony delivers this film in a two disc combo back with a Blu-ray + DVD and HD Digital Ultraviolet Copy. In terms of special features, there are two bonus Sing-A-Long videos for ““We Wanna Hear From You”” and ““Right Where I Belong””. Also included is a free, sparkly tiara for those little young princesses and a free Shutterfly Photo Book ($29.99 value) for the parents. Honestly, this is worth the purchase alone just for the photo book.

Book Review “Sofia the First: Ready To Be a Princess – Book and Magnetic Playset”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Book and Magnetic Play Set
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 3, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Since the beginning of this year, “Sofia the First” has taken over the world of young girls (and boys as well). The show premiered and has been such a huge hit. My 18 month old daughter absolutely loves this show so much. She dances to all the music and even tries to sing-a-long. This book and magnetic playset is such a blast and is the second one that I am reviewing this month after “Frozen”, which is another of our favorites. This is highly recommended if you enjoy this series.

“Ready To Be a Princess” follows Sofia, Amber, and their friends as they prepare for a glittering royal ball, a Royal Prep talent show, a grand tea party, and more. This fun magnetic play set includes two storybooks to enjoy. There are six play scenes includes along with fifty two magnets. This set well represents the show and is very colorful and high quality. I look forward to future adaption for this book in the future…may I hint a “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Doc McStuffins” as well.

Book Review “The Very Fairy Princess Sparkles in the Snow” by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

Author: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Series: The Very Fairy Princess (Book 5)
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 15, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Having a daughter changes your life. I am watching her grow day by day and I just appreciate when fantastic books like this are released for her to enjoy. “The Fairy Princess” is a great series for little girls and this latest installment is the fifth book in the series. It is written by the mother-daughter team of Julie Andrews (aka “Mary Poppins”) and Emma Walton Hamilton. My family and myself are suckers for anything teamed for holidays. So “The Very Fairy Princess Sparkles in the Snow” is right up our alley and it is easily the cutest book in the series and I can’t to see what the duo have planned next.

Official Premise: The Winter Wonderland Festival is just around the corner, and Gerry knows this is her moment to SHINE. She’s the most enthusiastic singer around, so she’s certain her music teacher will choose her to perform the solo. She takes every opportunity to show him her VERY best voice-during rehearsal, during lunchtime, and even during recess. When a professional singer is given the solo instead, Gerry is crushed…but as the snow begins to fall, she finds a way to get her SPARKLE back!

Julie Andrews has been such an amazing entertainer throughout her long career and I love the fact that she has turned to writing children’s books. Plus, I love it even more that she has been doing this with her own daughter, which makes it feel like a family project. The story is so sweet and such an even read. Given my daughter is only 16 months old right now but she loved the illustrated (courtesy of Christine Davenier) and the colors are so warm and welcoming. I see this book because a must read daily for my daughter and as she grows up. Keep them coming ladies! Book five and going strong!

DVD Review “Sofia the First: Ready to Be a Princess”

Actors: Ariel Winter, Sara Ramirez, Wayne Brady, Tim Gunn
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 17, 2013
Run Time: 112 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have a 16 month old daughter and every since the very first commercial for this show she (and my wife and I) have been in love with this show. Sofia is so sweet and the morals of the show are great for kids to grow up with and learn. The show is also packed with some amazing very fun songs. “Sofia the First: Ready to Be a Princess” contains five episodes from the first season, including “A Royal Mess”, “The Shy Princess” (which is my favorite episode to date), “Blue Ribbon Bunny”, “The Princess Test” (my second favorite) and “Two To Tangu”, which includes a special appearance from Princess Jasmine. If you have a young girl, I highly recommend this show and this DVD since it really delivers some of the best episodes so far.

Official Premise: Your favorite little princess-in-training returns for more music, majesty and magical fun, so get ready to have a ball with Sofia the First. Becoming royalty overnight is every girl’s dream, and Sofia is eager to prove she can be a true princess. Visit an enchanted circus, meet a pet dragon and soar through desert skies with Sofia and Amber on a magic carpet ride. But when their high-flying adventure veers off course, it’s special guest Princess Jasmine to the rescue with inspiring advice about trying new things, staying strong and trusting yourself. Sparkling with extraordinary songs, unforgettable characters and thrilling surprises, Ready to Be A Princess opens the door to a whole new world of kindness, helping others and being the best you can be.

The last “Sofia The First” DVD release was just the pilot feature length film, so I am glad to see that they included more than one episode here. I am hoping that they are going to be releasing these very often since we cannot get enough of this show. The DVD is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a solid Dolby Digital 2.0, which works well with the music. There are no additional special features included here but there is a free bonus Dress-Up Play Set with Wardrobe. This is really cute and a great addition to this already great DVD release.