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Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love

Published by Candlewick Press, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9045-8)

Ages 3-8

Riding the train on their way home from the swimming pool, Julián and his abuela see women clad in elegant, mint-green dresses trailing tail fins: mermaids. Wide-eyed Julián drifts into a fantasy: submerged in water, his hair lengthens as he sheds his tank top and shorts before being swept up in a stream of sea creatures. He discovers a tail where his legs had been, and accepts a coral necklace from a large, blue fish to complete the look. Once they’re home, while Abuela takes a bath Julián removes his clothing, tucks fern leaves and flowers into a headband, and kneels on the vanity to apply lipstick. From the gauzy window curtain he fashions a tail and strikes a pose—only to be discovered by a towel-wrapped Abuela, who promptly walks away. After a moment of apprehension, Julián’s relief is palpable when Abuela, dressed in blue, returns to present him with a beaded coral necklace. Without a word, she takes Julián’s hand and leads him to the mermaid parade, where they join in the celebration. A soft, colorful palette and gorgeous watercolor and ink illustrations on brown paper realistically portray bodies of all different sizes in this touching story of an abuela’s love and acceptance of her gender-creative grandchild. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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