Julián Is a Mermaid

Jessica Love. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9045-8
Riding home on the subway, Julián is transfixed by three mermaids—voluptuous and self-possessed, with flowing tresses of black, pink, and red, and wearing aqua fishtail costumes (the book is printed on a Kraft-like paper, so the colors seem to literally glow). “Julián loves mermaids,” writes debut author-illustrator Love, and her protagonist falls into a reverie: he’s under the sea, and amid a dazzling school of fish, he sprouts a radiant orange fishtail and waist-length curly hair. While Abuela takes a bath, Julián takes matters into his own hands. He strips down to his underpants, paints his lips purple, fashions a fishtail costume from curtains, and creates a headdress from ferns and flowers. He is, in a word, fabulous. Love lets an anxious beat pass before Abuela takes Julián by the hand, leading him to what some readers may recognize as the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. “Like you, mijo,” says Abuela. “Let’s join them.” Love’s deep empathy for her characters and her keen-eyed observations of urban life come together in a story of love, understanding, and embracing the mermaid within us all. Ages 4–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 05/22/2018
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