Julián Is a Mermaid

Written and Illustrated by: Jessica Love

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English and Spanish

Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Gender Expression, Latinx Family Life

Summary: Julián is a Mermaid is a vivid, fantastical celebration of family, exploration and most of all…mermaids! Julián LOVES mermaids, so when he sees the beautiful women of color in their mermaid costumes while heading home on the train with his abuela, he begins to imagine his own transformation into a mermaid.  Upon arriving home, Julián takes the opportunity to create his own mermaid costume while his grandmother is taking a bath.  When she catches him, he is afraid she will be angry.  Instead, she takes him to the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island where he can be with other mermaids!

This book has beautiful illustrations, and few words.  This allows the reader to be transported and really think about what Julián might be feeling in these moments.  His grandmother immediately embraces Julián for who he is, and introduces him to a whole new world where he can be himself.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Julián feels when his grandmother sees him dressing up like a mermaid?
  • How do you think Julián feels when she takes him to the Mermaid Parade?
  • Do you think anyone could be a mermaid?
  • What kind of fantasy creature would you like to be? (Ex: dragon, unicorn, phoenix, etc.)

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Hold a classroom parade of your own!  Have everyone dress up how they feel most comfortable, and take a lap around the school or bring the party to a nearby park.
  • Do some research on celebrations in the area where people dress up in costumes.  What are they?  What types of costumes do people usually dress up in?
  • Make watercolor paintings of your own transformation into a fantasy creature using the illustrations in the book for inspiration.

About the Author/Illustrator:Jessica Love

Jessica Love (she/her) 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.


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