Julian Is A Mermaid, a picture book from Jessica Love, is a glorious and exciting celebration about being yourself.
Whilst the end papers introduce Julian’s love of swimming underwater, the opening narrative begins with Julian and his Nana on a train. When 3 glamorous mermaids step on to the train Julian is captivated. In the following 3 gorgeous wordless pages he lets his imagination go free, as he indulges his own personal dream of transforming into a mermaid. And then, on the walk home he turns to his Nana and confides in her…
“Nana, I am also a mermaid.”
When Nana disappears for a bath, Julian turns his dream into reality. The flowing curtains, ferns, flowers and lipstick are all deployed as Julian transforms himself. What will Nana say… ?!
In an serendipitous echo of Julian’s earlier dream, Nana hands him some fabulous beads, takes his hand then proudly escorts Julian to the famous Coney Island Mermaid Parade – an artistic celebration of self expression. (PS the 2018 parade features Neil Gaiman as King Neptune and Amanda Palmer as Queen Mermaid!)
“Like you, honey. Let’s join them.”
The final images depicting the amazing parade are brilliantly inclusive. There’s also a lovely moment when Julian spots those 3 mermaids from the train… and they come together.
Nana may not say much – but Love’s illustrations show she is FULL of character, warmth and understanding, she knows just the right words.
Love’s watercolours on brown paper (rather than the default of white) are full of such calm understanding and love… and a gorgeous surprise tucked in on the final endpapers. I love how every part of this book has been wonderful utilized to convey Julian’s story!