Will it Be Okay? (Crescent Dragonwagon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Will it Be Okay?, written by Crescent Dragonwagon and illustrated by Jessica Love, a beautiful ode to optimism, perseverance, and the reassurance of love.

Originally published in 1977 (when it was illustrated by Ben Shecter), the dialogical text follows a conversation between a child and parent. As the child thinks up worrisome scenarios from the mild (“what if there is snow?”) to the serious (“what if you die?”), the parent calmly talks them through what would happen next. To face the snow, for instance, the child would dress for the weather. To face her parent’s death, they would remember that a person’s love doesn’t die with them. With each response, the parent encourages the child to be resilient and positive when facing challenges, assuring them that even in times of darkness, it will be okay.

Heartwarming. Dragonwagon’s dialogue reads with the language and cadence of a poem, and is timeless in its affection and comfort for worried minds. Paired with Love’s gorgeous illustrations, which use fantastic character design, sharp lines, and a muted color palette to bring energy and emotion to each scene, the effect is a story that is as much about the love between caregivers and children as it is about finding courage in adversity. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed pondering each of the child’s questions for herself – yes, even the death one. She’s recently been curious about loss and it was helpful to read Dragonwagon’s words on how we keep the love of the ones that we lose. Overall, a timeless story with a wonderfully fresh look, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Julián Is A Mermaid (Jessica Love)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love, a gorgeous tale of pride and acceptance for a gender nonconforming boy.

Riding the train with his abuela, Julián is delighted when three beautiful women dressed as mermaids get on board. Julián imagines himself as a mermaid, growing a tail of his own and long, beautiful hair that waves gently through the ocean, making friends with the sea creatures who love and accept him. When he and Abuela arrive home, Julián tell her that he wants to be a mermaid too, but Abuela simply instructs him to be good as she takes a bath. As she bathes, Julián is struck with inspiration: he sheds his normal clothes and crafts a mermaid outfit for himself, with a headdress of flowers and palm fronds, a long flowing tail made from a curtain, and a pop of lipstick to complete the look. Enjoying his new ensemble, he doesn’t hear his abuela exit her bath, and finds her staring at him in silence. At first, the reader and Julián think he must be in trouble… until he finds that acceptance is not only found in the sea.

Absolutely gorgeous. We’ve read a few lovely books this month about trans and gender nonconforming little ones, but this is definitely my favorite so far. The story is simple, subtle, but incredibly moving. The rich, earthy-colored illustrations need only minimal text to assist in getting the message across, but what is there is equally, perfectly understated. And the visual symbolism strikes a perfect tone, using texture, motion, color, and pattern to explore Julián’s hidden world of imagination and connect it to the reality of his quietly supportive abuela. The length is perfect, and JJ adored the art. A beautiful story for little mermaids of all genders, and it’s emphatically Baby Bookworm approved.