Top critical review
Book of Confusion
Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2018
Inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Coco, Miguel and the Grand Harmony by Matt de la Pena tells the story of a boy who longs to play music.
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.