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Julián Is a Mermaid
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Julián Is a Mermaid

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  5,565 ratings  ·  1,220 reviews
In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home,
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Candlewick
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Kate N. Ewing I loved it! It celebrates the unique, creative soul in each of us and promotes tolerance in our differences and joy in our individual blossoming.

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Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,565 ratings  ·  1,220 reviews

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Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of mermaids
Recommended to carol. by: Mir
Julián makes me uncomfortable. I mean, the pictures are adorable and well done, and I would love to have one of him swimming with the stream of fish up in my bathroom. But every time you turn around, Julián is stripping down to his skivvies and putting on lipstick. I’m just not an au natural nudist kind of person, you know? But I'm not a glamour-girl either, so add lipstick, and I feel like I’m getting a very mixed message.


He seems to have confused water mermaids with land mermaids, which are t
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When you walk into another person’s home, there’s always a distinct smell to the place. Homes absorb the lives of their occupants, and the end result is as much an olfactory experience a visual one. I love it when a friend moves house because when I walk into their new home it smells just like their previous place of occupancy, with just a twinge of difference. It is this experience of walking into a house and being overwhelmed by the sense of the place that I hope for in my picture books. When ...more
Whispering Stories
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

There’s no getting away from the fact that Julian is a Mermaid is a gorgeous book filled to the brim with amazing watercolour style illustrations that capture what I believe is New York in perfect light.

The books, as you would imagine, is about a little boy called Julian. On his way home from swimming with his Nana they board a train. Onboard is three women dressed as Mermaids. Julian is mesmerised by them. They look so beautiful in their outfi
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture
Really nice. Great illustrations.

Parent caveat: your kids will probably feel like making costumes out of household items after reading this. Keep an eye on the drapes.
This is one of the most beautiful picture books I have ever read. It is affirming and joyful. It is pretty and awe-inspiring. It is quiet and loud. It has movement and is loving. It is Black and Latinx and New York and Queer and intergenerational and wonderful. It is also funny and heartfelt. Enjoy!
David Schaafsma
Each year my family reads all the Goodreads-award-nominated picture books, and we have been doing this for years. Everyone rates each book and adds a comment and it may (or may not) affect my overall rating. This is book #1 of 2018, and is one of my favorites of the year, but that view isn't widely shared with the fam.

Tara: 3 stars. Eh. Cute, but who are all the people at the end? Some festival?

Harry (13): 3.5 stars. I like the pictures.

Hank (12): 3.5stars. I like how he got to see the world of
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is the most wholesome book I’ve read all year
I had not yet reviewed this fabulous children's book, which I read in June 2018, other than to rate it a fantastic five stars. However, I recently read a review by a goodreads acquaintance, that seems to have completely missed the point of the book, viewing little Julián as "disturbing." This upset me. We live in a troubling world, and I live in the current Trump Bigotocracy. I stand for equality for ALL. Period. No exceptions, no caveats. I wish that many of my friends and acquaintances, both o ...more
This is fantastic!!!
I think my favourite part is Julian's Grandma (Abuela).
She is not only supportive and accepting of her grandson, but finds him somewhere he can be himself with other like minded individuals.
The illustrations are lovely in a hand painted fashion that doesn't require a lot of text.
Spencer Orey
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-books
Really touching quick book with minimal dialogue and beautiful art that's more of an instructive lesson for adults than a story for kids. I hope the mermaids were everything Julián hoped they'd be!
Unconditional Love within. Julian feels like a mermaid so his abuela takes him to a place to be around other mermaids.

I do love the art and the simple story of wanting to be who you are. This is so much fun and has the energy of Carnival to it.

The kids had fun with this book.
fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #18: Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community.

review to come....
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

The fact that this is a PICTURE BOOK and hardly any narrative is included at all is what makes it brilliant. Well, that and the artwork. Those watercolors are 5 Stars. Because so much is left unsaid, Julian Is A Mermaid can be about whatever anyone wants it to be. Mermaids, imagination, expressing yourself, acceptance, all bodies are beautiful bodies, etc., etc., etc.

Of course since only children are amazing and adults are buttholes, t
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Children who love dressing up
Recommended to Hilary by: Abigail
Julian enjoys dressing up. Inspired by seeing some colourful costumes he makes himself one from bits and pieces from his Grandmother's house then they go together to a parade. The illustrations are lovely, colourful and full of sunshine, some beautiful images of glamorously curvy older ladies in colourful clothes, busy enjoying life!
Gorgeous illustrations and a beautiful message of acceptance and being true to yourself. I think this book should wind up on a lot of Caldecott prediction lists this year.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Prediction: 2019 Caldecott winner
Truth be told I indeed do find the internal messages featured in Jessica Love's Julian is a Mermaid about being yourself, about accepting who you are and what appeals to you, while certainly important and essential, also a bit too much of having been presented over and over again in far too many recently published picture books (although yes, I also very much consider Julian's abuela, I find his grandmother an absolute gem, especially that she does not ever verbally criticise her grandson after ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This may be my favourite picture book that I've ever read. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. The expressions say so much by themselves. And Julián's abuela's unquestioning acceptance and affirmation makes me want to cry.
Monica Edinger
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What Betsy said. (Can't imagine anything beating this for the 2019 Caldecott.) ...more
So beautiful, especially the illustrations!!
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The last book read in my evening of reading diverse children's books. This one was pure fun. Julian is adorably drawn and there is a luscious array of fabric illustration - from bathing suits to Nana's pants and dresses. The final sea-themed parade was just lovely.
As always when I pick up children's books I want to see them converted to animated short-films, this one would be particular cool in that format.
La Coccinelle
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
This is a cute story about being yourself.

Julián sees some women dressed as mermaids on the subway, and he wants to be like them. While his grandmother is having a bath, he dresses himself up as a mermaid using a houseplant and some curtains. When his grandmother first sees him, she doesn't look very happy. Julián thinks he's going to be in trouble. But she eventually helps Julián with his costume, encouraging him to express himself.

I like the message here, and the illustrations are really lovel
Cheriee Weichel
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The art in this one nearly made me swoon. I read this to groups of grade 3/4 students this week and am happy that the only thing that made a few of the boys uncomfortable was seeing Julián in his underwear. We have come a very long way since I first started teaching.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth the wait. I wouldn't recommend that you buy it unless you have an heir or students, but I read it on my mom's library's Overdrive on my laptop and it is clearly more than just another encouraging message book. It's about more than just loving what you love, but also about family (a supportive grandma in this family of 2) and community (oh, see where Abuela takes Julian!).

Very few words, nothing to do with being a drag queen or being gay or anything.... Julian thinks long hair & skirts with
Kari Percival
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Swimming in the pool with his Abuela and her friends during aquatic aerobics, Julian dreams of being a mermaid among mermaids. On the subway, seeing women dressed up on their way to Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, he is inspired to dress up like a mermaid when he gets home, improvising with his Abuela's curtains and plants. Will Abuela be angry? In that magical way that only grandmas sometimes can, she SEES him, and in the moment, choses what is important. She brings him to join the Mermaid Parad ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't often mark picture books on Goodreads or count them toward my yearly reading goal just because I read so many of them. I definitely don't take the time to review them. That being said, this is one of the most beautiful and intentional books I've read in a while about identity and the importance of being affirmed by your loved ones. Jessica Love's expertise in capturing facial expressions makes this book really tug on the most tender parts of my being and I just want to read it over and o ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, lgbt
LOVE this! Beautiful illustrations and an inspiring and important story.
Michele Knott
I was fortunate to receive this book early. I read it and put it aside. I needed time to process its beauty and message. I came back to it again and appreciated it even more. It is hard to put into words how important I think this book may be.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
A great children book with awesome illustrations. Beautiful and welcoming. I came across it when I was looking for a book for "Task #22: A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009 " of < a href =" Harder Challenge. It has won many awards including 2019 Stonewall Book Award and also The prestigious award by British institution Waterstone.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories Exploring Gender Expression / People Who Enjoy Beautiful Art
Riding the subway with his abuela one day, young Julián sees three beautiful mermaids, resplendent in their fins. Having always loved these watery creatures, he is absolutely thrilled, and begins to imagine himself as one of them. Once he and abuela get home, he uses a fern, a curtain and his grandmother's makeup to transform himself. But what will abuela think...?

A lovely book, one which pairs a thoughtful, emotionally resonant story about a young boy exploring his identity with absolutely gorg
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Jessica Love is an illustrator and Broadway actress. She has a BA in studio art from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as a graduate degree from Juilliard. She lives in New York.

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