(The Sentinel) – A $500 kindergarten teacher from Kansas City, Kansas proudly but anonymously posted on a social media page that she read the book Julian Is a Classroom Siren. But efforts to identify the instructor or to solicit a comment from school officials about the book have not been successful.
The book, about a boy so infatuated with mermaids that he wants to become one, won the 2019 Stonewall Book Award in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category. The award is co-sponsored by the American Library Association. On the ALA website announcing the award, the book was praised for its “outstanding merit for children or adolescents as it relates to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.”
Reviewer Beverly Slapin was equally effusive in her praise:
“In this delightful, life-affirming picture book, young readers will see young Julian grow into the person he was meant to be. Filled with love and joy, Julián Is a Mermaid is for all questioning children and children who may not conform to the “norms” of their genders – and everyone else too. Julián Is a Mermaid is highly recommended.”
The book is also a recommended selection on the National Education Association website.
In the post, the teacher writes:
“Today I read this book to my students. It’s about a boy who sees mermaids in the pool and decides he wants to be one. At no time did they (students) say “ewww” or “gross”. They also said how good it was at the end. Hate is taught. Teach your children well.
The Sentinel reached out to Superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield, Elementary Schools Executive Director Dr. Amy Washington and Board of Education Chair Randy Lopez for comment on the appropriateness of Julian Is a Mermaid for 5-year-olds. Nobody answered.
The Sentinel contacted every elementary school principal in the $500 system in an attempt to identify the anonymous kindergarten teacher and obtain comment from the teacher and administrator. The only answer came from Collette Chaney, principal of Welborn Elementary:
“Please contact the central office”