Mermaids and Weddings – a student review

Julián is a Mermaid is a beautifully depicted story of a little boy who dreams of being a mermaid.

After seeing some women dressed as beautiful mermaids on the train home from swimming with his abuela (grandmother), Julián has an idea.  Suspense builds as Julián’s abuela is in the shower and he explores her home for accessories to create a mermaid costume.  Julián picks leaves from a plant, puts on his abuela’s lipstick, and uses her curtain as a mermaid tail.  What will she think?

Phew: when Julián’s abuela discovers him in his costume she is not cross.  Instead, she proudly gives him some pearls to put around his neck and takes him out in his costume.  ‘Where are they going?’ wonders the reader, along with Julián.  To a Mermaid Parade, and there are the mermaid women that Julián saw on the train!  Love depicts a vibrant and exciting event with all brown-skinned characters.  This parade is a real-life event held on Coney Island every summer.


Jessica Love’s latest book, Julián at the Wedding, is a heart-warming addition to the fantastically received Julián is a Mermaid.

Julián at the Wedding follows our key protagonist, Julián, and his new friend, Marisol.  The two become friends as they share their duties assisting the two brides.  Both Julián and Marisol are cared for by their abuelas (grandmothers), who are good friends.  Julián, Marisol, and the brides’ dog break away from the wedding party through play when they come across a beautiful willow tree.  Julián, with his strong imagination, sees the tree as a fairy house and gets carried away as he explores within.  Meanwhile, Marisol and the dog are excitedly playing on the ground, when, uh oh! – Marisol’s lovely dress has got muddy.  Not to worry, friendly Julián has got a solution.

The reader is kept on tenterhooks: how will the abuelas receive them when they return?  Phew, their abuelas are not at all cross and encourage the two to enjoy the wedding.  The abuelas’ unconditional acceptance and love for the children, as well as the love between the two brides, make love and gender without limitation central themes of this book.


Student review




3 thoughts on “Mermaids and Weddings – a student review

  1. Thank you student reviewer, these are useful, interesting reviews! You are bringing to all our attentions these two important titles for young readers, well done!

    Hopefully you have inspired your fellow students to read the work of Jessica Love for themselves, to think about how they could use it in their own classrooms and to write a book review of their own for this blog!

    More book reviews please folks!

    Best wishes to you all,

  2. Great book reviews. I have just read Julian is a mermaid and really like the subtle ways in which it explores diversity. Vicky and I are going to explore this book further in our module EE517.

  3. Thanks for these enticing reviews – I share your enthusiasm. Jessica Love is a fantastic artist, who uses her colour palette to great effect. Her peach and pinks and lilacs are not over-sweet, but subtle and joyful against the brown paper background, and I love her portrayal of movement, in particular. As a storyteller, she celebrates loving acceptance of who we are, however we are. I really like the portrayal of the grandmothers. With their mature women’s bodies and faces, they are validated here not just by their loving relationships with their grandchildren, but for themselves: their love of life, sense of fun, and many friends of all generations. They are confident and outgoing, at once glamorous and ready to kick off their high heels to join in the dancing.

    These books would make terrific Christmas presents from a grandparent to a grandchild. If you have other suggestions for present ideas of good children’s books that you have read recently, please do share them here.

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