Our favorite books of the year.
One day, on a subway ride with his abuela, Julián notices three beautiful women dressed as mermaids. To Julián, their long flowing hair and glorious fishtails spark daydreams of being one himself. At home, he fashions a makeshift fishtail out of a curtain and a headdress out of a potted plant. A wonderful picture book that illustrates love, acceptance, and imagination, Julián Is a Mermaid is perfect for ages 4 and up. Recommended By Kim T., Powells.com
Julián Is a Mermaid was the Best Book of the Year as soon as it was released. The art and colors alone are goosebumps-inducing. It's also a multilayered story, as it can be read in a number of ways: it can be about a boy who loves dressing up; it can be about self-discovery and a boy coming out; and it can be about unconditional love — or all of the above. It'll leave you mesmerized by how incredible it truly is. Recommended By Jordan S., Powells.com
The art and the colors will dazzle your eyes, and the story of discovery and unconditional love will warm your soul. Gorgeous and awe-inspiring, this book is an absolute stunner. Recommended By Jordan S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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, Julian 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 Julian 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 Julian 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.
"Groundbreaking…here’s a happy picture book that challenges traditional gender stereotypes, rendering one boy free to be himself." San Francisco Chronicle
"The illustrations couldn’t be more beautiful, and I love how Julián’s grandmother accepts him for exactly who he is…I’m so grateful for books like these that help foster acceptance and understanding from a young age." A Cup of Jo (blog)
"The luminous, lovely, and layered art is what really makes the book…The concluding parade is a confectionary wonder of marine fantasy that many kids will yearn to join, and it might prompt adults to set up their own in- library mermaid celebrations. More importantly, though, those who’ve been shy about their love for dazzle and showmanship will love the idea of a formidable grandparental ally, and they will find this encouraging and empowering." Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
"[Julian] 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." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Refreshingly, Spanish words aren’t italicized. Though it could easily feel preachy, this charmingly subversive tale instead offers a simple yet powerful story of the importance of being seen and affirmed.
" Kirkus (starred review)
"This is Jessica Love’s debut picture book, and every choice she makes — the spare text, a color palette both muted and lively, full-bleed pages that make even subway cars and apartment rooms feel as expansive as the ocean — imbues the story with charm, tenderness and humor…Alongside Julián, readers learn that anyone can be a mermaid: All it takes is love and acceptance, a little imagination and a big swishy tail." The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Jessica Love is a published children's book author and illustrator. Her first book, Julián is a Mermaid (Candlewick Press) is a New York Times Editor's Pick. Jessica grew up in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California, raised by a pair of artist parents. She studied printmaking and illustration at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then went on to study acting at Juilliard. Jessica lives in Brooklyn, and splits her time acting in plays, and illustrating.