Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love

Review by Logaine Navascués

Candlewick Press (Penguin Random House), October 2020

40 pages, hardcover, $22.99 CAD, ISBN 978-1-5362-1238-9

Ages 4-8, Grades Pre-K–3

Picture Book, LGBTQ+, Contemporary Realism

Every love story is unique. Julián at the Wedding is a tribute to love that defies gender and race stereotypes, to portray love in all its uniqueness, multiple forms, and hues. While grandma and her friends chit-chat after the ceremony, Julián drifts away from their sight with young Marisol to start an adventure of their own. Under a willow tree, they turn Marisol’s dirty dress into a butterfly fairy gown using a playful twist of their imagination, to the guests’ delight.

Jessica Love’s BIPOC and openly LGBTQ+ characters seem to embody love, and freedom as well. Love is everywhere: visible in the brides’ gestures, in the children’s naïve play, and the grown-ups’ laid-back yet caring attitude. Even in the cute pet dog, who has also been invited to the party. Everyone seems to be having a really good time; everyone seems to be part of one big extended family, and a close network of friends. Yet everyone seems different and authentic too.

The illustrations emphasize each character’s individuality. The bright, lush graphics appear to jump out of the beige pages in bursts of pastel colours that enhance the warm, festive feeling of the wedding. Intricate patterns, vibrant decorations, exuberant foliage and dresses, all combine to create a powerful visual narrative. The illustrations almost carry the story alone, but sparse text interspaced among sequences of wordless spreads add meaning—and a touch of poetic humour—to the tale.

This tender and uplifting story is the follow-up to award-winning Julián Is a Mermaid, Jessica Love’s debut picture book.

Logaine Navascués is a Peruvian artist, writer, creative director, teacher, and book maker, currently living in Vancouver. She is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter and two artist’s books. You can find her reading, collecting picture books, and eating chocolate while pursuing her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature (MACL) at UBC.

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