Author: Jessica Love
Illustrator: Jessica Love
I can’t speak highly enough of this book. There is magic within it’s pages and an incredibly powerful story, beautifully and subtly told. If money were no object, I would present everyone with a copy of their very own at birth. Published by Walker Books (June 2018) it is aimed at children aged 4 – 7 but really is for us all… from 0 to 100+.
Whilst riding the Subway with his Nana one day, Julian spots some fabulous mermaids and is mesmerised. Capturing his interest and sparking his imagination, Julian waits for his Nana to take a shower back at home before he sets about transforming himself – possibly making a bit of a mess in the process!
His resourcefulness and exploration of what he looks like at each stage really rang true for me with how children find creative ways to play with whatever they can get their hands on – they are not limited to seeing the world and its contents in the same way us adults do. Many a saucepan has become a space helmet and my toddler wore a fruit basket as a train drivers hat for weeks! And so Julian makes use of plants and drapes…
If Julian’s dress-up is indicative of children’s play then his Nana’s reaction to it represents how I would wish my interactions with children to be – accepting, inclusive, playful and full of love. Having scanned the room and looked Julian up-and-down, she silently walks away… only to return holding out a string of beads just for him.
Throughout this book there are few words. They aren’t needed – thanks to the utterly captivating, delicate and vibrant illustrations that are packed with something to say. If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ then ‘Julian is a mermaid’ is worth millions; self-acceptance, diversity, confidence, curiosity, trust, generations, love, celebrate, unity, exploration, self-discovery, play, imagination, togetherness, acceptance, community, courage, difference, authenticity, patience, kindness, belonging are just a few.
If you haven’t read this book yet – please do! Buy yourself a copy and then lend it to someone else. Donate a copy to your local school. Ask your local library to add it to their collection and then encourage everyone to read it. Share a copy with your class. Read it with your children at bedtime – no matter how old they are. Buy it for your friends’ children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren, teenagers, grandparents… everyone! Read it on the bus, train, underground so other people see it.
This is the sort of book that can help with a quiet revolution. Within yourself and those around you. One of the things I love about it is the numerous messages you can take away from it – depending on what you focus on.