Miguel And The Grand Harmony (Matt de la Peña)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Miguel And The Grand Harmony, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Ana Ramírez, a gorgeous tie-in to the Oscar-nominated film Coco.

Told from the point of view La Música (presented in the form of a delicate golden sprite), the reader follows the spirit of music through the streets of a Mexican town. Music is everywhere: weddings, quinceañeras, funerals, or simply singing through a radio or a local’s guitar. The music is stopped abruptly, however, when it reaches the home of Miguel and his shoemaker family; his abuelita chases the musicians off, claiming they will upset the elderly Mamá Coco. But Miguel clearly yearns to hear the music, even make it, despite his family’s wishes. So La Música enlists the help of a mischievous stray dog named Danté, a broken guitar, and a kindly músico to help Miguel join in the grand harmony.

Full disclosure: Coco was the first movie JJ saw in a theater, so it will always have a special place in my heart (it was phenomenal). And in keeping with Disney’s recent fabulous tradition of high-quality “inspired by” tie-ins, this story is astoundingly good. While knowledge of the themes of Coco and its characters are helpful for context, they are not required – the story works just fine as a standalone, celebrating the power of music and the passion of those who live and breathe it. The watercolor art is gorgeous, evoking a classic picture-book style while infusing it with life and color that makes every page a stunner. The use of Spanish phrases and the inclusion of elements of Mexican culture are perfection, providing contextual clues instead of overt explanations, creating a sense of immersion that both Latinx and non-Latinx readers can appreciate. The length is fine, if a little on the long side for the youngest bookworms, but JJ and I both adored it. A must-read for lovers and makers of mūsica, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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