The Book of Life

When was the last time you went a kid’s movie and you left with a bigger smile than your children?

For me, that was this weekend after The Book of Life.

The kids thought it was “medium,” I was in tears at the end. I absolutely loved it.

The story traces the roots of the Dia De Los Muertos tradition popular through Spanish culture. Where we have Halloween built around sexy costumes and giving our kids candy, the Spanish tradition sees this day of the dead as a time to celebrate loved ones who have gone before us.

The story in The Book of Life is told in the form of a narrator taking some delinquent kids on a tour through a museum. She tells them this intriguing fable of Manolo, Maria, and Joaquin immediately grabbing their attention. There are few twists along the way, and the kids are a great foil yelling out things the audience is absolutely thinking leading to loud laughs in the theatre.

The story is a traditional one of love and rivalry and there are your typical character stereotypes (Maria is animated as extremely thin with huge highs and even bigger hair while the male characters are equally exaggerated in their broadness of shoulder and squareness of jaw). Look past that, however, and you will see a wonderful explanation of the customs of Dia De Los Muertos hung on a tapestry of bright colour and incredible animation.

Book of Life cast

The custom is simple and perfect. November 2 is the Day of the Dead, a day to remember family and loved ones who have gone before us. Fiestas and offerings are celebrated at their place of burial. It is believed their spirits come and join in the party and it’s a wonderful, celebratory time. Souls that are celebrated on Dia De Los Muertos get to live in the Land of the Remembered, a brightly coloured land that is in constant fiesta (this is the kind of heaven I can get behind).

The Book of Life

Those who go without memorial dissolve to the Land of the Forgotten where they blow away in dust (not a bad description of hell).

I couldn’t stop thinking of my grandmother the entire time. I miss her so much, and Zacharie will often talk about how he misses her. It’s random and comes out of the blue. When I tried to tell them my feelings after the movie and asked if he thought of Nan, he became upset.

Zacharie and Nan

“Nan always lives in my heart,” he explained. “But when she starts to live in my brain, I get upset, because I miss her so much.” Kids, I tell you. They have a perfect knack of explaining things.

Oh, and bonus craft idea! The theatre had a table set up with cut out paper plates for kids to colour their own Dia de los Muertos masks. What a wonderful idea!

Dia de los Muertos Crafts

See It Or Skip It?

See The Book of Life, absolutely see it. Then see it again without the kids.


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