Julian is a boy who lives in New York with his nanna, who he sometimes calls abuela (grandmother in Spanish, as all you Dora fans know). While Julian was on the train with his grandmother, he sees three beautiful ladies dressed up as mermaids.
Julian loves mermaids, and like all kids do when the train starts rocking, he starts to daydream, imagining himself changing into a mermaid, swimming under the sea and meeting all sorts of wonderful sea creatures.
As they get to their stop, Julian and abuela get off the train. The mermaids wave goodbye to Julian. As they get home, Julian tells his nanna that he is a mermaid too. Nanna says nothing but goes to have a bath. While grandma is relaxing in the bath, Julian goes into her things and becomes a mermaid.
Nanna comes out of the bathroom, and stares at Julian.
At this point there is tension, the reader does not know what nanna will do…will she freak out? Will she stop talking to Julian? But abuela puts on a beautiful blue dress, gives Julian a string of pearls and takes him to the Annual Mermaid Parade (a real event that happens in Brooklyn, NY)
There are only around ten sentences in this book. The illustrations speak for themselves. They convey a very emotional message. I cried on my first read.
So many Julians, yet so few abuelas.
This book teaches acceptance, love and self-love, being who you want to be, even if it’s a mermaid. It teaches children to love who they are, challenging gender stereotypes along the way. Boys can be boys and be mermaids too. That’s ok.Unlike other stories the boy does not have to face criticism or bullying for his choice of play. There is no bullying involved in this story.
I would dare to think that Julian goes to a good school where bullies are the ones going to counselling and therapy, not the children who choose different toys from the majority.
This story teaches us how things should be.
Comfortable in our own skin, comfortable with the skin of those we love, and all those around us.
I highly recommend this book to anybody raising children, mermaids and unicorns. There is a lot adults can learn from a children’s book, and this is one of those books.