Coco the Monkey – Sticking to a Smart Plan | #ffl11

Coco - take a close look at her left wrist

During the 2011 Friends for Life conference, Lilly Diabetes and Disney announced a new partnership. At the center is a new Disney character: a young monkey named Coco who is living with diabetes and will be featured in a children’s book series.

The first book is about Coco attending Goofy’s birthday party. At first, Goofy thinks that Coco can’t come because of her diabetes. But Coco and her mom explain that she can do everything the other guests can as long as she plans for it. Coco is a happy, active and well-adjusted young monkey who is excited to attend the party and eager to talk about her diabetes.

I’ve said many times that when it comes to food, healthy choices and moderation are good for anyone, not just those living with diabetes. I am thrilled to see this exact message delivered in this story.

Coco shows Goofy that she can go to the party, play games, win contests, and eat cake and ice ream.  This is an important message that we’ve seen delivered in other stories. Lilly Diabetes and Disney take the story a progressive step further.

Coco and other guests partake in but don’t overdo it when it comes to treats. Goofy however, because it’s his birthday, chooses to eat anything and everything he can. As a result of these choices, Coco and others are still going strong and playing and having fun at the end of the party. Goofy, on the other hand, doesn’t feel well and his friends have to take him home in the wagon he brought for Coco because he was worried she would need it because of her diabetes.

I think that is a fantastic message for kids today – all kids, diabetes or not. Make a plan that allows you to have fun while not going overboard, and stick to it.

This and other books planned in the series will be available through doctors’ offices.

Caleb read and enjoyed this book, but Caleb is 8 and has been living with diabetes for more than 4 years. Although I am pleased to have these messages reinforced with Caleb, his current struggles are a little different.

It seemed like Lilly and Disney were 10 steps ahead of me.  As I was flipping through the book thinking it would be so wonderful if they could do something in a novel form for kids a little bit older, they said exactly that – a series of novels for tweens is in the works and the first couple will be focused on sports.  This happens to be an area of great interest for Caleb right now.

Based upon the caliber of the production of Coco and Goofy’s Goofy Day, I am very excited about the novel series. As Tom Karlya, aka Diabetes Dad, put it, the impact of seeing a Disney character living with diabetes next to Mickey and Goofy, some of the most widely recognized cartoon characters in the world, is certain to be powerful.

In speaking with people from both Lilly Diabetes and Disney Publishing Worldwide, it was clear that they really want to get this right. So far, I think they are doing just that.

In addition to the books, Disney Interactive Media Group has also launched a section on specific to diabetes. You can take a closer look at

Lastly, they distributed a nifty Birnbaum pocket guide for Walt Disney World. It’s a great little summary of what you need to know for a visit to any of the WDW parks. At the end there are four tear-out pages, one for each park, with Type 1 Diabetes tips. I’m definitely keeping this handy for our next trip.

Disclosure: During the 2011 Friends for Life Conference, I attended an informative event about and received an educational takeaway from the Lilly/Disney collaboration. I was not compensated in any way nor was I asked to write about this event. The above opinions are expressly my own. 

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