Bobcat turns "Coco" into middle school novel
Long before the Disney movie “Coco” was released in 2017 to rave reviews and made its first $150 million in five days, before it scooped up two Academy Awards for best animated film and original song, Texas writer Diana Lopez (M.F.A. ’99) was approached by Disney Press to write a novel based on the story about a young boy who visits the Land of the Dead.
Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage everywhere else. The holiday — Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 — involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and helping support their spiritual journey.
In “Coco: A Story About Music, Shoes, and Family” (Disney Press, 2017) Lopez was able to take the film’s story and adapt a middle grade novel with greater depth. She says she wanted to honor the spirit of the story while also giving Miguel, Coco’s grandson, a larger role. In the film, Miguel enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, Ernesto de la Cruz, a legendary singer/actor. Because his family bans music, the guitar loving Miguel wants to find his ancestor whom he had long idolized. His daring adventure into the colorful Land of the Dead will solve a mystery for his grandmother, Coco.
Lopez was a 2017 finalist for the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Created by Texas State University College of Education. She has written seven novels; most are geared to a middle grade audience. A former middle school teacher, Lopez teaches creative writing at the University of Houston-Victoria.