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Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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About the Author
Matt de la Peña is the New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal winning author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, The Living and The Hunted) and two picture books (A Nations Hope and Last Stop on Market Street). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.
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La Musica has come to the town of Santa Cecilia. She appears at birthday parties, weddings and even funerals. It is then that she notices a boy named Miguel.
He secretly longs to learn how to play the guitar. His grandmother does not want him to have anything to do with music. She insists that he will let Mama Coco down.
La Musica can tell that the boy has music in his heart. Together with a stray dog named Dante, she hopes to inspire Miguel to follow his passion. Can this unlikely duo bring music back to Santa Cecilia?
I have to admit, I was greatly disappointed by this book. I found the story incredibly hard to follow. De la Pena does not give the reader a clear idea of just who is narrating the story. The character of Dante is also used in a peculiar manner. On one page, Dante is a stray dog. Yet on another page, Dante belongs to Miguel. I found this inconsistency only added to the confusion of the story.
Additionally, I do not feel that the story had a resolution. There is no sense of closure. While I realize that the book was inspired by the movie, Coco, the two appear to be vastly different. Nothing is mentioned about Dante being a spirit animal nor about Dia de los Muertos.
The book's saving grace are the gorgeous illustrations by Ana Ramirez. I love his style and use of bright, bold colors. Children will definitely be drawn to the colorful characters.
Overall, I feel that this book is too abstract for young readers. While children will enjoy the illustrations, they will not gain any takeaway from the book.
If you have seen the movie, however, this book is basically a prequel to it, showing how Miguel got his guitar. (It also briefly touches on another character, but I won't spoil that one for you.) I'm a huge fan of the movie myself and was interested in seeing if this book would add any more insight into the movie's story, and was not disappointed. If you'll forgive the internet speak, it will give you "a lot of feels."
I'm not sure I would recommend it to very young readers (probably no-one under the age of 5) since the narration might go a bit over their heads. It''s a tad artsy in places, and it's told from the perspective of "La Musica"--sort of a spirit of music, which tiny kids might have a hard time grasping. But if you're a parent and you're reading this, you probably know what your kid is able to understand, so I'll let you make that judgment.
If you're like me and you loved this movie though, I highly recommend this book. And if your kid liked the movie, I'd recommend it to them, too.
Where there is music, there is color.
And where this color, there is life.
Miguel and the Grand Harmony by Matt de la Pena is full of color, music, and life. Told from the perspective of music personified, the reader has the opportunity to see and feel the impact of music in the lives of those who make it, listen to it, and try to resist it.
The music of this story is drawn to a boy, Miguel, who is told to resist Music’s draw. The reader watches as the Music leads Miguel to his destiny and ultimately enriches not only his world, but the world of those around him.
The details and color of the text and illustrations make for a book that is to be read again and again. It easily has a role as a read aloud in a music classroom but also in an ELA classroom as a mentor text showing personification.
Recommended for ages 5 and up.