Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, published by Walker Books, is the most refreshing and uplifting picture book that we have read for a long time, it’s no wonder it has recently been nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
Julian is out with his Nana when a group of majestic mermaids board the same train as them. Mermaids are Julian’s favourite thing and as he watches their grace and beauty he is completely transfixed.
Amazed at the ability of the people he saw on the train to transform themselves into mermaids Julian has an idea and later on, whilst Nana is in the bath, he starts to experiment.
Watching Julian’s transformation over the next few pages is wonderful as he freely explores all that he can find to hand to express himself and become the mermaid he wants to be. Then Nana comes back from the bathroom. Julian stops in his tracks, he has been found out and the beginnings of a look of shame start to creep over his face as she walks straight out of the room again.
Nana is a woman of few words and when she returns she makes a gesture that says more than anything she could possibly say; she hands him a string of pearls.
An incredible moment of acceptance and love that is captured so beautifully in Love’s illustrations. And out they go again with Nana leading the way as she takes Julian to celebrate and parade his new status as a mermaid.
The diversity represented in this book breaks new ground for picture books and it has been handled expertly by Jessica Love’s use of many wordless illustrations that leave the reader free to explore their own thoughts and appreciate this story for everything it is, a real testament to how powerful picture books can be.
Buy Julian Is a Mermaid from Waterstones.
Many thanks to Walker Books for sending a copy of this book for review.
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