Jessica Love has won this year's Klaus Flugge Prize for the most promising newcomer to children's picture books with her "barrier-breaking" and "heartwarming" tale, Julian is a Mermaid.
Partly inspired by a trans friend of Love, Julian is a Mermaid is the story of a young boy who loves mermaids and how he finds a way to become one, with the help of his nana. The book was also shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
Love told The Bookseller: "I'm completely amazed. I didn't imagine this book would have even a tiny amount of success much less the kind of reception it has received. I thought I would self-publish and give it to my friends. I've been really lucky and I'm just over the moon. It was an incredible year for picture books and I would have been delighted to just be mentioned in the same sentence as these authors and illustrators."
Praise for Julian is a Mermaid:
“celebratory and ground-breaking” - The Sunday Times
“The stand-out title this month is a picture book, Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. […] In the bravura feat of understated storytelling, the richness of Julian’s free-floating imagination is caught in images layered with colour, movement, muscle and life, celebrating black and Latino experience. Julian invents a tail and flowing hair, and Nana’s acceptance, as she accompanies him on a wild parade of mermaids, will leave the reader filler with joy.” - The Guardian
"Beautiful [...] Magnificent [...] Lovely [...] Magical [...] Gorgeous" - RuPaul
“This utterly gorgeous picture book is great for questioning our gender stereotypes but without being at all preachy." - The Sun