Julian is a mermaid by Jessica Love

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406380637
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Mermaids, Grandmothers, Imagination, Diversity, Individuality. Julian is mesmerised as he returns home on the tube with his grandmother. Several women are dressed in the most spectacular of costumes, brightly coloured, adorned with jewellry and head dresses, they make an indelible impression on the boy. He dreams of running home, taking off his clothes and diving into the ocean with a tail just like them. And once home, he ferrets around in his apartment for things to dress himself just like the women he saw on the train - the mermaids. He uses the pot plant fronds for his head dress, nabs the flowers from the bowl to put in his hair and the curtains from the windows to make a tail, and when his gran comes out of her bath she gives him a string of costume jewellry for his necklace. The pair then enter the street and make their way to find others just as flamboyantly dressed, making their way to the sea.
A dazzling tribute to all those individuals not afraid to show their difference, who reflect diversity as well as those who support them, this book sings with the exuberance of youth and being an individual.
Colourful, fun filled and light hearted, the cheery liveliness of the two main characters permeates the book as they join the mermaids at the seaside dressed in their finery. The illustrations are amazing, brown sepia tones fill the background against which the luminous colours tell the story of Julian with humourous light heartedness. And the end papers are divine and will entrance all readers.
Jessica Love is a Californian artist and this is her first venture as author illustrator. Classroom ideas are available here.
Fran Knight