Reviewed by Chelena River
Julián Is a Mermaid is written and illustrated by Jessica Love. This is a book that introduces young readers to a world of freedom of individual expression. The story takes place in an unnamed location, and the characters in the book appear to be of Latinx descent and speak both English and Spanish. The main indicator that the characters are Latinx is their use of Spanish. Without the use of Spanish words, the race/ethnicity of the characters would be unknown but potentially perceived as black or Latinx.
The author, Jessica Love is a straight, white cis woman. She personally does not fit the culture of the characters in her book; however, she focuses on teaching the importance of personal expression, love, and acceptance. As a genderfluid person, I didn’t see this as a transgender book, but more of about the freedom of gender expression. This book does a great job challenging the reader’s bias and the social norms around gender expression and identity. Continue reading.
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Published by Candlewick Press on 2018
Reading Level: Early Childhood, Grades 1-2
Review Source: Reading Is Resistance PDX
Buy at Powell's Books
In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he's seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes -- and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love's author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.