Disney Collaborates with Arizona Author to Expand Coco Universe


Ravenna Hinojosa

After the success of the film Coco, Disney looked to expand Miguel’s story into children’s books. Arizona native Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford was given the opportunity of a lifetime when Disney reached out to her to continue Miguel’s story.

Rivera-Ashford was born in Nogales, Arizona, on the border between Arizona and Mexico. Born Roni Capin, she came from a pioneering Jewish family that often split their time between Nogales and Sonora. Thus, she grew up with a strong Mexican and Jewish culture. She became Roni Capin Ashford when she married her husband, who is Mexican American. However, she asked her mother-in-law if she could add Rivera to her pen name, to honor her Mexican heritage. She then became Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford.

Rivera-Ashford grew up speaking both English and Spanish, which is a main component of her books. She attended both University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Before becoming an author, she worked as a preschool and elementary teacher, interpreter, and librarian. This helped her see what types of books are missing in most classrooms and libraries, and what type of stories children would love most.

Although her own children are grown, she continues to delight children everywhere with her bestselling children’s books. Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford brings her cultures into her bilingual books, which include My Tata’s Remedies/Los Remedios de mi Tata, Hip Hip Hooray, It’s Monsoon Day!/¡Ajua, Ya Llego el Chubasco!, and of course, Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes,her book for Disney. In these stories, she always includes a piece of her heart by paying homage to those close to her.

Rivera-Ashford has such a strong connection to Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes, because she was given the opportunity to work with her son Aaron. The two collaborated and filled the book with the aspects of culture that speak to them, including nods to some amazing people such as her brother who passed away in 2006. She states that the red hawk in the book is for him, as he said the bird is a sign he is always with her.

Rivera-Ashford feels it is important to preserve family literacy and cultural awareness. On her official website, she says, “My dream is that my stories become available to children’s families, schools, and libraries everywhere, to promote tolerance and eliminate discrimination.” She feels it is important to embrace our similarities and respectfully acknowledge our differences through literacy.

All of Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford’s books can be found online through her website, Amazon, and retail stores such as Barnes and Noble.

Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford visited the Signal Peak Campus on October 29, to discuss her experiences as a children’s book author. She visited the Children’s Literature class to briefly discuss what being an children’s book author is like, and to answer a few questions from the class. In the evening, she lectured on intercultural literature and signed books for those who attended the event. In addition, CAC hosted several showings of the film Coco, on October 24thand 30thand November 4th.

This event was part of the Intercultural Lecture Series aimed to involve students in the local community and enrich their experiences at this college.  It was sponsored by The Center for Cultural and Civic Engagement, Literary Arts & Languages Division, and Social & Behavioral Sciences Division.


Photo from Butterfly Heart Books