Friday, 29 March 2019

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th March 2019: "Julian is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love (Walker Books)

This week's Picture Book of the Week is one we unfortunately missed out on first time around, but it's been utterly fabulous catching up with this awesome little story.

"Julian is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love has quite rightly been winning awards and getting glowing reviews left right and centre. It's just been longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 and anyone who's anyone in publishing or kidlit knows that this is fantastic news. Well done Jessica!

So what's it all about? Well, it's the heartwarming story of Julian, a little boy who wants more than anything to be a fabulous, glamorous beautiful mermaid - and it has captured the hearts and imaginations of everyone who has read it.

Quite simply, it's the sort of book that perfectly nails the notion that kids should be allowed to grow, evolve, progress and shape their own paths in life from an early age, without the boundaries and barriers of adult opinion, bias or prejudice.

Julian spies some beautiful 'mermaids' at his local swimming baths while going for a swim with his lovely Nana.

Julian lets his imagination soar, an undersea adventure as a fabulous mermaid
From there, his imagination soars, and Julian is absolutely determined to achieve his goal - to become the most beautiful mermaid. A boy? Becoming a mermaid? What on earth will his Nana say?

When Julian gets home he begins to put his plan into action, and though he pinches quite a few of Nana's cherished bits and bobs to achieve his aim, Nana does not lose her temper, go crazy at him, but comes up with a plan to let Julian's fabulous idea come to full fruition.

There are so many things to love about this book. Julian, as a character, is utterly brilliant - determined, gutsy, perhaps a little shy but feeling wholly realistic and well thought out.

Nana is the star for us, reminding me very much of my late Nan, a woman who was incredibly wise and balanced, and - like Julian's Nana - would have taken such things in her stride, accepting and encouraging rather than scolding or punishing.

Jessica's art is beautiful, the minimal word count lets the visuals take over and tell the story in an incredibly effective visual way. So again, it's really not hard to see why this is an absolute winner from start to finish.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fabulous book celebrating a child's vivid imagination, encouraging and nurturing their ideals and believing that they can truly achieve anything and be anything they want to be, regardless of gender.

"Julian is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love is out now, published by Walker Books (kindly supplied for review).