Storytime & Artmaking: Julián is a Mermaid

Take inspiration from Jessica Love's book Julián is a Mermaid to create a paper merperson. (While this activity is inspired by a book, you do not need to read the book to do the activity.)

About the Book

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes—and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

Getting Started

  • What are ways in which you explore your identity like Julián?
  • Meeting the mermaids changed how Julián saw himself. Who are some people who shape the way you see yourself?
  • Julián’s abuela (grandmother) supported and encouraged him. Who are some people who support and encourage you?


  • Pencil
  • Markers, color pencils, or crayons
  • Black marker or pen
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Tape
  • Paper (2–4 sheets)

Artmaking Activity

1. Use pencil to draw the face and the body outline. Here’s a template to get you started.

2. Trace your drawing with a black marker/pen.

3. Put a second piece of paper on top of the first and draw in the tail and clothing.

4. Color in your skin tone and hair.

5. Color in your tail and clothing.

6. Cut out your merperson and clothing. If you need to cut around fine details (fingers, hair, etc.), ask an adult to use an X-acto knife.

7. Tape tail and clothing to person.

8. Swim!

Optional: Share your creations on social media with #AlbrightKnox and #MuseumFromHome!


Outline: a line that traces or forms the outer limits of an object or figure and shows its shape