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?
Middle school student Hudi has become a regular at his local hospital, due to a variety of injuries and other health issues, including losing a lung. His doctors and parents are fearful that his weight isn't helping his health, so, despite a lack of interest and natural ability, he finds himself thrust into the world of team sports. But Hudi's humor and imagination keep him going—along with support from his imaginary mascot, Chunky, a chipper, furry, horned pink creature who calls himself Hudi's "biggest fan"—as life at home with his family becomes more stressful. Drawing from his childhood experiences, Mercado's memoir emphasizes his humor and creativity as his younger self tries to figure out who he is and how he fits in, using jokes to cope with fatphobic adults in his life. Linework is strong and steady, with tropical golden and green tones punctuated by the deep but radiant magenta hues used to illustrate Hudi's pal Chunky. Mercado relies on a variety of panel layouts, borderless panels, and perspectives to keep the eye moving, and each chapter ends with a fun fourth-wall breaking postgame wrap-up. Hudi is Mexican and Jewish, while secondary and background characters present as Black and white. VERDICT Mercado offers relatable insights into the life of a child who is eager to fit in but also coming into his sense of self, sometimes with the help of adults and sometimes in spite of them. A compelling coming-of-age memoir.—Alea Perez, Elmhurst P.L., ILCopyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.