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Julian is a Mermaid - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published August 27th 2018
A gender fluid book about being open and loving yourself
Julian is a Mermaid
Jessica Love. Walker Books.


Julian is a Mermaid is a 2018 picture book published by Walker Books and written and illustrated by Jessica Love about a little boy called Julian, who sees some women dressed as mermaids on a train and is so awe-struck by them he decides that he wants to be as beautiful and magical as them. The book is suitable for children 4 years and older and it retails for between $21.99 and $29.99.

Julian is a Mermaid explores gender fluidity, non-gender conformity, gender stereotypes, identity, using your imagination and the courage to express yourself.

Julian is a little boy who lives with his grandmother. This book had some of the most beautiful artwork I've ever seen. There was so much diversity and colour and emotion on each of the pages. The characters are all people of colour and each of them have different body types. Julian is small and thin with short hair, his Nana has big white hair and wide hips, and the mermaids are large and beautiful women dressed in heels and tightly-fitting green dresses.

After Julian sees some mermaids on the train, he is dazzled by them. He imagines what it would be like to shed his clothes and to dive down into the ocean and swim with all of the colourful fishes in the sea. In his daydream, he has big hair and a long, pink mermaid tail. He is beautiful. He is pretty. He is who he wants to be.

After leaving the train, Julian and his Nana go home. He cannot get the mermaids out of his mind. He tells his Nana that he is also a mermaid. Julian gets an idea to create a mermaid costume of his own. He borrows some of his Nana's lipstick and creates a dress for himself out of a curtain and a headdress out of a potted plant.

He looks in the mirror and likes what he sees. He finally feels as pretty as the mermaids that he saw on the train. But then his Nana appears and frowns at him and Julian feels a rush of shame and panic. He crosses his arms over his chest and looks at himself again in the mirror but this time with a questioning look on his face.

Has he done something bad? Is his Nana mad at him?

Julian is a Mermaid has very little words in it. The real story is in the illustrations and in the expressions on the character's faces. Julian is a Mermaid has a positive message in it for kids and that is dressing up is a normal and healthy activity for both girls AND boys to participate in. There is no agenda in this book and there are no labels put on Julian. He is just a kid who loves mermaids. This would be a great book to read to LBGTI kids.
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Why? Julian is a Mermaid is a book that explores gender fluidity and gender stereotypes. It teaches children that playing dress up and using your imagination is normal and that it is ok for boys to embrace their inner feminine side.
Where: Available from your local bookstore or online retailer
Cost: $21.00 - $29.99
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