After seeing Pixar’s Coco in theaters, audiences of all ages will latch on to certain aspects of the film and hold it in their hearts forever. In the same way that Pixar films are often just as much for adults as they are for kids, this children’s picture book inspired by the film is, too. Miguel and the Grand Harmony is a unique children’s book inspired by the film and featuring a few of the characters, but it’s not a recap or continuation of the film you will share with your family this holiday season.
The story follows La Música as she flows from person to person, sharing her special gifts with them. Eventually, she arrives in Santa Cecilia where she encounters a young boy, Miguel, who is not allowed to enjoy music. La Música spreads color wherever she goes, but she will have to be creative if she wants to bring color to Miguel’s dreary world.
To anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film, this story will seem more simplistic than it truly is. The film will allow you to experience it through new eyes and La Música makes a few stops along the way that may initially appear meaningless, but become very meaningful and relevant if you know the story. Written by Newberry Medal winner Matt de la Peña, this story is incredibly charming.
The illustrations are provided by one of Pixar’s Visual Development Artists, Ana Ramírez, who worked on the film and thanks Production Designer Harley Jessup at the beginning of the book. Her illustrations are so full of life and culture, celebrating her Mexican heritage, using many of the South American styles that so inspired the work of Disney Legend Mary Blaire. Several of the pages instantly brought to mind some of her concept art from the 40’s and 50’s.
Ramírez has visualized La Música as a sprite-like character, a burst of energy that can be found on every page, although it becomes somewhat of a “Where’s Waldo?” experience at times, giving readers the thrill of trying to find her. On the pages where she takes on a more solid form, she reminds me of one of the fairies from the “Nutcracker Suite” segment of Fantasia.
Miguel and the Grand Harmony features more text than I was expecting and Disney Press recommends it for kids ages 6-8 (1st-3rd grade readers). However, parents will find it easy and fun to read to their kids and each page features detailed artwork. You will want to linger on Ana Ramírez’s beautiful full color illustrations and examine the details with them. This book is the perfect way to continue your newfound love and appreciation for the beautiful culture of Mexico that Coco brought into your life.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.