Julian Is a Mermaid
In lovely, pastel fauvist palette, Jessica Love, an actor debuting as an author/illustrator, introduces us to Julian, who loves mermaids. Love uses sparse language to tell the story of a young boy lucky enough to have an abuela who understands his unlikely obsession. He sees or imagines mermaids everywhere, the pool, the subway, in the neighborhood, and certainly in his imagination. At home, he declares, “Abuela, I am also a mermaid.”
Grandma’s no fuss response? “I’m going to take a bath. Be good.”
He is good, if being good includes using a plant’s leaves and fresh flowers as decoration, a curtain as a tail. He’s all got up! His abuela, as sensitive and loving as they come, finishes off his ad hoc outfit with a necklace and heads out the door.
“Where are we going?” he asks.
We all see. They promenade around the ’hood where fabulous, fantastically outfitted ladies are everywhere.
“Mermaids!” whispers Julian.
He and his unperturbed, wise abuela join in the mermaid pageant. And without any overt messaging, dogma, or discernible teaching agenda, we get it. Julian’s passion is accepted and celebrated. He belongs!
This picture book is a welcome addition to the redefining of gender that seems to be sweeping our country, and the publisher sagely understands that for some children this issue begins at a very young age. Here is an understated endorsement of a journey that can prove to be difficult if there is a lack of understanding. But not for Julian. Whatever his road, he’s validated and off to a safe start.