Book Review: “The Art of Coco” is a Great Companion Piece to the Upcoming Disney-Pixar Film

Hi everyone!

The Art of Coco by Chronicle Books released a few weeks back, and we received our review copy yesterday. Disney-Pixar’s Coco will bow in theaters on November 22nd, and I have been looking forward to the film for months – and the book as well. The world of Coco is a vibrant one, and The Art of Coco features the colors of it beautifully. The Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that Disney introduced me to many years ago at Disneyland. And this year, with the newest Disney-Pixar animated film coming up, there have been celebrations and displays around the Disney parks. The book is another way to learn more about a holiday I personally didn’t grow up with, and to celebrate a film that has received rave reviews so far.

The Art of Coco begins with a foreward by John Lasseter, who talks about the inspiration for the film and how he incorporated it into his own life. The introduction by director Lee Unkrich is about family, and how Mexico is unique in how it remembers loved ones who have passed. For co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina, Día de los Muertos is a holiday he grew up celebrating and Coco is a personal project for him. He discusses a little of that in his introduction.
The book features a lot of artwork and explanations on various aspects of the film. For example, Dante is the adorable dog in the film – and he is a Xolo dog, which the Aztecs believed “guided the dead on their journey to the afterlife”.
Various characters are shown in full color, as well as in pencil sketches and clay. For some of those working on the film, this was a labor of love. Sketch artist Ana Ramirez talks about how her mom started crying when she found out that Ramirez was working on the movie.
Aspects of Día de los Muertos are discussed throughout the book, including the ofrenda – the alter where aspects of the lost loved one are placed, as well as the cemetary. Celebrations occur at each. And places like The Land of the Dead in the film are explained.
Skeletons play a big part of Día de los Muertos, as they do in the film. Animation Supervisor Gini Santos says in the book that “we want them to be relatable as people we loved” – so the artists worked at creating skeletons that would remind the audience of family members, to give them depth. We see in the book the artwork and thought that went into Hector, who is a major character in the film – we see him in his “human” form, but also as the skeleton that we will know him as in the movie.
When I opened The Art of Coco, I noticed that there was less text than I am used to with other “The Art of” books. I wish there was more, but what is there helps move the book along. I didn’t feel like there were any major spoilers in the book, but there are some – especially in the final pages of the book as it talks a little about the film’s ending.
The Art of Coco is a great companion piece for the film, filling in parts of the movie and holiday that I may not have understood before. I have learned a lot about Día de los Muertos in the past couple of months, but I feel I have an even greater understanding of it now and how it fits into the film. The book is about 160 pages long and another solid “Art of” offering. If we didn’t receive this as a review book, we would have purchased it (as we have many other “Art of” books).