Love, Jessica. Julián Is a Mermaid. Jessica Love, Illus. Picture Book. Candlewick, 04/2018. pp. $16.99. 978-0-7636-9045-8. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.
As Julián and his abuela head back home on the subway after their weekly swim at the pool, Julián continually notices women dressed as mermaids, triggering dreams of his swimming through colorful schools of fish. While his abuela takes a bath at home, Julián fashions his own mermaid outfit using curtains, ferns, and flowers, eventually being given a string of pearls by his abuela who also takes him to be a part of a joyous mermaid parade. Featuring a cast of characters who are exclusively of color, the gorgeous, bright, watercolor-gouache-and-ink illustrations pop on a pale brown background, while boasting soft shapes that swirl and dance. The fact that Julián is described using he-pronouns and wants to dress as a (traditionally female) mermaid is made to seem inconsequential to the story, with his abuela going so far as to actively accommodate and encourage his dream, while the minimal text makes this appropriate for even the youngest of readers. A lovely triumph on many levels.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library