In this full-color middle grade graphic memoir for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft, Yehudi Mercado draws inspiration from his childhood struggle with his weight while finding friendship with his imaginary mascot, Chunky, as he navigates growing up in a working class Mexican-Jewish family.
Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot.
As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for Hudi, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love—comedy.
But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself or will this friendship strike out?
* A TLA Maverick Graphic Novel of the Year * Banks Street Best Children's Books of the Year *
Bespectacled, salmon-skinned Hudi, who is Mexican and Jewish, can make everyone including the medical staff at his frequent doctors' visits laugh. He also sports an orange shirt that shows a slice of his rounded belly, a symbol of frequent worry for those same health-care professionals. Attempting to address the specialists' continual apprehension about Hudi's weight, his thin mother and muscular father enroll him in sports ranging from baseball to swimming, all of which Hudi earnestly tries, though never really flourishes in. While Hudi nevertheless begins making friends, his sharp-toothed, fuchsia-colored imaginary mascot, called Chunky, becomes worried when Hudi starts pretending to fit in and the school's football coach weaponizes Hudi's size. Mercado deftly balances humor ("This is a comedy. A sports comedy," Chunky opines, breaking the fourth wall) with the family's financial concerns, as Hudi's sister's Bat Mitzvah approaches and their father gets laid off. Vibrant full-color panels accentuate Mercado's thick linework, visually embodying Hudi's infectious self-acceptance. An uplifting graphic novel and a rollicking series opener. Front matter features an author's note. Ages 8 12. Agent: Charlie Olsen, InkWell Management.