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Julián Is a Mermaid — 19 Comments

  1. The wordless pages give the book depth and spark conversation. The end papers-the simple, elegant and mix of English & Spanish vocabulary were striking. I read this book 2 times to connect the pics, the story, the words, the artwork and the feel of the pages. A book that would be accessible to all students of all ages is Julian is a Mermaid. 5 of 5 stars.

  2. I loved this book. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is so heartwarming. I loved the relationship between the grandmother and grandson. While I can see how this book may be seen as controversial, I think it can also be a good representation of pretend play. When kids pretend, they can be whatever they want to be. Using that as a starting point, it can also be used to gently bring up a discussion of gender.

  3. First the illustrations in this book are FANTASTIC! The costumes are amazing. I love how the author values the world of imagination. She used few words yet expressed so much. She expressed the freedom to be who you are and what you feel. I think this would be an excellent book to use as a journaling prompt – imagination….who/what would you be in your imagination? Also I would introduce this book to our school counselor who those kids dealing with gender identity issues.

  4. Like KNichols indicated, this book pushed me out of my comfort zone. I loved the illustrations, the sweet tenderness, and love between the grandma and her grandson, and the total acceptance that everyone’s uniqueness is loveable. I am sure that even letting students know ahead of time that Julian will change clothes and they will see his underwear, will still provoke giggles with 2nd graders. I do see a need for this book in today’s society, but I don’t think I would read this book without a specific reason and that being a child struggling with gender issues. I think this would be great to have in the library, but in the classroom as a read aloud, I’m sure I would get parents upset that I broached a topic that is not accepted in every home. This book also would be one that I would recommend to our social worker to have in her library to use as needed with students.

  5. This book has beautiful pictures and a wonderful grandma! I love the reassurance and the acceptance that Julián feels from his grandma. I think there are so many individuals hurting today that feel as though they are not okay as they are and that they need to be something different than they are. This book pushes back on those limits and on societal boundaries. Every age would read it with their own understanding and it would spur conversation. I think that reading this book in the classroom would be controversial, for the parents, at any age.

  6. It seems that this book can be interpreted many different ways. If you take it for what it says – Julian loves mermaids, he loves mermaids and that’s ok. I wish the author would have put Julian in colored undies or a speedo since that’s all the kids are going to be talking about even if you tell them ahead of time. I read the book as an ebook, maybe I missed any information on the mermaid parade which makes the story more interesting. I probably would not read this book to second and third grade. I can see displaying it with other books we highlight for independent reading.
    3/5 stars

  7. I absolutely LOVED the grandma in this book! She is a big gal, she is tired, she is unflappable and is totally supportive of her grandson. This would be a great book for teaching inferencing since there is a lot going on, but not a lot of words. The author/illustrator is able to convey so much feeling in her pictures. I also think this book is a great example of “You Do You”, which is a theme we work on all year long. I like that the book challenges gender norms, but I think it is exceptional for what is says without using words. 5/5

  8. I think this would be a great book for a lesson with primary grade students about imaginative/pretend play. I would probably start the lesson asking them to imagine a time when they have dressed up and pretended they were something else. We would talk about how fun it is to imagine and pretend. I would mention before reading that in the book one of the characters changes clothes and yes, we will see some underwear….but that we won’t see anything more than we would see at the pool so there’s no reason to get worked up. 🙂 I feel like putting it out there beforehand helps coach them through the times when they might be prone to giggling.
    These illustrations have so much detail in them…I especially noticed the repeated pattern from Julian’s pretending scene with the fish that gave him the necklace and the pattern on Abuela’s dress when she presented him the necklace. Thank you to the previous post that mentions the mermaid parade…I would have loved it if the back matter of the book included a little information about that, too, as letting the kids know about the parade beforehand would definitely give them a better understanding of the event Julian was joining.

  9. I loved this book and the sweet character of Julien’s grandmother who shows such unconditional love and support. The illustrations are beautiful and so fitting for the story. I had not heard of the mermaid parade as well. I would recommend the book to parents and our librarian, but would not use it as a read aloud for 2-3 graders.It is such an important topic, but I feel more on a 4-5 grade level.

  10. I really enjoyed this book, especially as a book for kids in grades 2-3. I loved how Julian stays true to himself and pursues his own interests, and how creative and imaginative he is in his costume creation. I also loved how his abuela radiates unconditional, accepting love for Julian, and helps his dream become a reality. This book makes me think about the different ways that we prefer to give and receive love, and how meaningful it is to have someone speak your love language. The level of emotion that’s portrayed too through the illustrations was nothing short of amazing.

    I would use this book as a way to celebrate individual differences in a classroom. Although there’s no mention of gender-stereotype in the book, I could see this book as being a great source to open up a discussion of what it feels like to be trapped by gender-stereotype, and what it feels like to have that pressure removed. I can also see using this book as a way to imagine what happens when you respond to a situation with kindness instead of judgement, as Julian’s abuela chose to do.

    Overall rating: 5/5 stars

  11. I had never heard of the Mermaid Parade of Coney Island before reading this book. I read the book on June 21, 2019, so almost the day of the Mermaid Parade. Abuela seemed to be the strong, quiet woman that has raised so many generations of children. She wasn’t emotional or talkative, but her love and acceptance of Julian shown through. I wish Jessica Love hadn’t put Julian in his underwear as much she did. I wouldn’t use this book as a read aloud in the classroom.

  12. I believe that we should treat all people the way we want to be treated. This does not mean that we have to believe and agree with everyone’s lifestyles. In my classroom we talk about treating our friends with respect. When it comes to issues that this book brings up I prefer to have my students talk to their parents about these subject matters. I don’t feel it is my responsibility to explain every social issue our world has to my students, some of them need to be placed back on the parents. I don’t think this is a book I would have in my personal library, but could see it in our school library. The book is well written and I love the illustrations. I give this book a 4/5.

  13. Of course I loved this book; it was my camper’s choice book for last year’s camp. 🙂 I greatly appreciate the inclusivity of and the story of the mermaid parade is cool. This boy’s grandma is a gem and really knows how to love and accept this child completely as they are.
    I think this book and books like it need to be shared and available so we can change hearts and minds. Reading through the other comments left about this book proves my point about why its needed. I would share this book in a classroom or library setting and I have and will continue to recommend it for pleasure reading. Books are mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors after all.
    Rating 5/5

  14. Julian is a Mermaid has won the Stonewall Book Award which is an ALA sponsored award that recognizes “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” in English-language books published in the U.S. As such, this book addresses a sensitive issue in a thoughtful way for those who are in a position to share its message of acceptance and love. Adults may need to help children in their initial responses to some of the illustrations. The Mermaid Parade is an almost 4 decade tradition celebrating Coney Island’s mythology and especially the art community in New York. It is the largest such parade in the U.S. For more information: https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/mermaid-parade 3/5 stars.

  15. While reading this book my thoughts went in several directions. I a world of so much change and these changes happening at such younger ages I felt the book leads the reader to that conclusion. I don’t really now how I feel about the book. Third grade and below I don’t believe would connect with the change the young boy is going through.
    Rating 2/5 stars

  16. This book pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit. It was definitely a book I kept thinking about after I had finished it….and the more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me. The world we live in right now needs more books like this. The genuine love, acceptance and support this grandmother showed Julian is how I hope I would respond to a child trying to discover their true self.

    I think I would use this book more on an “as needed” basis. I can see myself sharing it with a child struggling with self-acceptance or recommending it to a parent. The beautiful watercolor like illustrations could be a wonderful opportunity to explore this media in an art class.

  17. I had mixed feelings about this book. I was not sure if this boy just had an interest in being a mermaid or if he related more to being a girl than a boy. I think that either gender should be able to like anything they want and we should encourage this, but this book may or may not be good in the classroom. I feel like there are other ways or books that may encourage students to be themselves, but this one may go a little too far.
    I think at grades 2-3 they may giggle when the boy takes his clothes off to his underwear and dresses up like a mermaid. I am just not sure this is something I would want to read to a class or leave out for free reading.
    I rate this book 2/5 stars

    • Although I loves this book my students would have a hard time getting past the underwear and the very busty women. I do love that it shows children that they can be anything they want to be and promotes transgender equality, although my students wouldn’t even be aware of that point. I would only give it a 6 out of 10 as I could not keep this in my library with the clientele I have.