Review of Julián at the Wedding

Julián at the Wedding
by Jessica Love; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-5362-1238-9    $16.99

Love’s follow-up to Julián Is a Mermaid (rev. 5/18) features characters both familiar and new. At the start of the story, Julián and Abuela are strolling down the sidewalk, arm-in-arm and dressed to the nines, on their way to a wedding. They join up with a friend of Julián’s, Marisol, wearing a yellow dress and backward ball cap that is soon to be replaced with a crown of flowers. Through spare text and lavish watercolor, gouache, and ink illustrations, Love paints a picture of a joyous occasion. “A wedding is a party for love,” the author writes, opposite which we see Julián and Marisol posing with the brides as they share a kiss. Our two main characters steal away from the party, Julián now wearing Marisol’s flower crown, and we watch their play take flight beneath a fluorescent-hued willow tree. When Marisol’s dress is ruined in all the fun, Marisol puts on Julián’s dress-shirt, adorned with the tree’s bright cyan leaves. The scene is magical — a magic befitting children who are uninhibited by societal gender norms and restraints. When the friends are discovered, they are not admonished but whisked away to join the brides on the dance floor. Brown craft paper is used as the book’s background, adding depth to the colors throughout and emphasizing the different shades of each character’s brown skin. Once again Love has brought us young characters who are free to live, play, and express themselves however they wish without conflict. An abundance of joy and love.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Hill Saxton

Hill Saxton is a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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