for Julián is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
Riding the train 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 and he’s swept up in a stream of sea creatures, a tail where his legs had been, a large blue fish presenting him with a coral necklace. Once 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. 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. (Ages 3–8)
CCBC Choices 2019. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019. Used with permission.