Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love

Other authorsJessica Love (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2018

Call number



Candlewick (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 40 pages


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?

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Riding the subway with his abuela one day, young Julián sees three beautiful mermaids, resplendent in their fins. Having always loved these watery creatures, he is absolutely thrilled, and begins to imagine himself as one of them. Once he and abuela get home, he uses a fern, a curtain and his
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grandmother's makeup to transform himself. But what will abuela think...?

A lovely book, one which pairs a thoughtful, emotionally resonant story about a young boy exploring his identity with absolutely gorgeous illustrations, Julián Is a Mermaid is everything a picture-book should be. Word and image work seamlessly together, making it particularly astonishing that this is a debut from author/artist Jessica Love. I appreciated the fact that Julián's abuela is so loving and accepting, I enjoyed the New York setting (for those not in the know, New York has an annual Mermaid Parade, held at Coney Island in the summer), and I loved the artwork. The pages are brown, and the watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations vibrantly colorful. I particularly loved the scene in which the mermaid Julián confronts the huge blue fish - it fairly leaps off the page! Recommended to all young mermaid lovers, and to anyone looking for children's stories about little boys who don't conform to the stereotypical interests and image often defined as masculine.
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LibraryThing member g33kgrrl
"I love this book. It my favorite." - My daughter, age 2 and a half. 1/26/19

It's one of my favorites too. It's beautiful, and thoughtful, and every time we read it (every bedtime these days!) there is something new for her to look at and think about and ask about. And the artwork is just phenomenal.
LibraryThing member HeidiSki
Young Julián lives with his abuela and is obsessed with mermaids. After spying some women on a train dressed as mermaids, Julián later tells his abuela, “I am also a mermaid,” then proceeds to wrap a curtain around his waist as a “tail.” Ferns in his hair complete the fantastical look,
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and when his grandmother catches him —is he in trouble? Not at all! In fact, she takes Julián to a festival where people are dressed as fantastically as Julián. – SLJ March 2018 A beautiful book celebrating everyone. Illustrations show images of brown skinned characters of all ages. Readers might be interested to know that the Mermaid Parade is a real event that takes place every summer in NYC’s Coney Island. (Emily J. book review for Stonewall Book Award)
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Julian loves mermaids so when he sees three mermaids on the subway, he is inspired to create his own mermaid getup. His abuela is unfazed and practical about Julian's interests, but ultimately supportive. There is a warm delight and familiarity to the illustrations: the plus-sized older women
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bouncing in the pool and old men with spindly legs and white knee socks. Then there are the fantastical images of people of color dressed as glamorous mermaids and sea creatures. Ideal for storytimes during pride month, themes of imagination and dress-up, or to reflect your storytime community.
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LibraryThing member jessiechan
On the subway with his abuela, Julian is mesmerized by 3 mermaids in beautiful colors, long hair, and flowing gowns. Julian imagines himself as a mermaid. When he gets home, Julian begins to transform into a mermaid with the help of curtains, plants, and lipstick. When Julian is caught by his
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abuela he is unsure how to feel, until she brings him to the mermaid parade where Julian is is surrounded by love and belonging.
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LibraryThing member melodyreads
Beautifully done.
LibraryThing member LibrarianRyan
Every good thing that has been said about this book, it deserves. Why didn’t it win the Caldecott, hummmm. The message is simple but wonderfully powerful: acceptance to be who and what you want to be and Juilan wants to be a mermaid.
#BBRC #AtoZofpicturebooks
LibraryThing member amandabock
Beautiful in all the ways.
LibraryThing member bookbrig
The art in this book is amazing, and the story is beautifully sweet. Love!
LibraryThing member eo206
I know many people love this book, but it feel like cultural appropriation. There are so many better books written by queer people of color -- please check out those books instead of or in addition to this one, including "From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom"
LibraryThing member LibroLindsay
OMG. I almost started crying at the reference desk. Beautiful illustrations and the spare text is expertly written.
LibraryThing member reader1009
diverse picture book (preschool and up)
simple yet powerful story told with beautiful pictures and sparse prose. So beautiful, it made me cry a little bit.
LibraryThing member jennybeast
Not sure if it's the story or the splendid illustrations I like the best -- it's just a beautiful, quiet, loving book either way. Also, the end papers are a delight. So wonderful, so funny, so celebratory.
LibraryThing member J_Odiorne
On the subway ride way home from the pool with his Abuela, Julian is inspired when he sees beautifully dressed women with flowing hair and imagines them to be mermaids. Then he imagines himself to be a mermaid swimming in the sea. When he gets home he wants to be a mermaid, too. He takes a curtain
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off the wall for a tail and cuts palm tree fronds for a headpiece and is quite delighted with the way he looks! But, what does Abuela do when she finds her little mermaid? She watches and observes him and decides that she loves him and celebrates exactly who he is.

Critical Analysis: This is a great book to teach children about the concept of gender identity and expression. It will help children understand the perspective of others and to make inferences about the thoughts and feelings of others. It fosters empathy, understanding, and compassion and helps children with acceptance of others and self-acceptance.

Favorite quote: "Abuela, I am also a mermaid!"
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LibraryThing member Belbo713
Beautiful message, beautiful illustrations.


A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (Picture Books — 2018)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — Picturebook — 2021)
BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (Picture Books — 2018)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Preschool — 2020)
Red Clover Book Award (Nominee — 2020)
Stonewall Book Award (Winner — 2019)
Chickadee Award (Nominee — 2020)
Blue Hen Book Award (Nominee — Young Readers — 2020)
Jane Addams Children's Book Award (Honor Book — 2019)
Kids' Book Choice Awards (Finalist — 2019)
Golden Poppy Book Award (Mirrors & Windows Honoree — Illustrated — 2018)
Waterstones Children's Book Prize (Shortlist — Illustrated Book — 2019)
UKLA Book Award (Shortlist — 2020)
Books Are My Bag Readers Award (Shortlist — 2019)
Three Stars Book Award (Nominee — Young Readers — 2020)
ALA Rainbow Book List (Selection — 2019)
Anna Dewdney Read-Together Award (Honor Book — 2019)
Klaus Flugge Prize (Winner — 2019)
Ladybug Picture Book Award (Nominee — 2019)
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award (Honor — New Illustrator — 2019)
Notable Children's Book (Younger Readers — 2019)




0763690457 / 9780763690458

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