Before the world can tell you who you should be and before the world has a chance to convince you that you aren't made of the right stuff, there is a delicious, delightful time of freedom when you let yourself flow out and you are fully alive. Julián is in that gorgeous space when he sees three women dressed as mermaids on his way home from the local pool. As the subway rides on toward home, his mind carries him off imagining his own amazing transformation.
At home with his abuela Julián finds exactly what he needs to become a mermaid, to become himself in a new way. It's a metamorphosis. Luckily, his abuela knows she is watching him fall in love with himself and with the world that holds so so many possibilities and dreams for him.
A beautiful book about creating our own sense of self, our own pathway and celebrating the wonder in this gift we call life.
40 pages 978-0763690458 Ages 5-9
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.--from the publisher
Going home on the subway with his grandmother, Julian spots three glamorous women dressed as mermaids and is immediately transported to his imaginary world living under the sea as a mermaid, at one with the creatures there. He is pulled from his reverie as the train reaches his stop but the memory lingers and once he is home and his grandmother goes to have a bath, he uses the things in her apartment to transform himself - plant fronds for flowing, hair, lacy curtains for a splendid tail, and some lipstick. But then his grandmother comes out - will she scold him for becoming something so feminine or will she embrace his imagination and diversity?
In what is almost a wordless picture book, the reader has to immerse themselves in the pictures to really engage with this story that challenges the stereotype of being a mermaid being a girl's dream and celebrates diversity, being true to yourself and accepted for that.
One can imagine the eyebrows that would be raised on an Australian metro train should three glamorous women dressed as mermaids get on, each confident in themselves and their dress (reminiscent of the costumes of Priscilla, Queen of the desert)- but this is New York and instead of derision they encourage a young child to dream and then make that dream a reality.
His grandmother, somewhat overweight but nevertheless flamboyant in her own style, is clearly very comfortable in her own skin, not driven by the expectations of others and definitely not the stereotype grey-hair-and-knitting that is so commonly portrayed in stories, and so it is not surprising that she embraces Julian's desires and takes him to a place where he can truly belong.
Because so much of the story is told in the illustrations, they have to be superb and they are. From the stunning undersea creature presenting the mermaid Julian with a coral necklace to the characters that Julian and his grandmother pass in the street, indeed even the women in the pool in the endpages, each with is imbued with personality and confidence and pride in who they are.
This is a book that demands close reading and reflection so its riches are revealed; it is one that will raise questions and demand explanations; but to those who are like Julian and dream of things that are beyond the traditional stereotype bounded by gender, it will bring comfort and maybe confidence so they too can be themselves.
Recommended by: Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, New South Wales AUSTRALIA
See more of her recommendations:
500 Hats http://500hats.edublogs.org/
The Bottom Shelf http://thebottomshelf.edublogs.org/
Storybook Cushions http:// bit.ly/storybook_cushions