Chunky (Chunky #1)

by Yehudi Mercado (Author) Yehudi Mercado (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: Chunky

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?

Select format:

More books in the series - See All

School Library Journal

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., IL

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Hudi's a master at deflecting his shaky self-esteem with zingy one-liners. The digital artwork and sports scenarios play for laughs. Mercado notes in closing remarks, "Being 'Chunky' isn't about being fat. Being Chunky is about feeling like you don't fit in." And that's a theme plenty of middle graders can relate to.—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Yehudi Mercado
Yehudi Mercado was born in Mexico City and grew up in Houston, Texas. He spent high school in the theater department putting on plays. After college he worked in video games and eventually became an art director for Disney Interactive, where he co-wrote and art directed the Guardians of the Galaxy mobile game. His graphic novels include Chunky, Hero Hotel, Rocket Salvage, Fun Fun Fun World, and Sci-Fu, and he was the artist on the Epic Original graphic novel Cat Ninja. Yehudi created a narrative podcast based on his graphic novel Hero Hotel for the Pinna network. He has adorable dogs named Bucky and Bosco and usually sneaks one of his pets into his books.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date
June 22, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV008110 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Humorous
Library of Congress categories
Childhood and youth
United States
Imaginary playmates
Graphic novels
Houston (Tex.)
Cartoons and comics
Middle school students
Jewish families
Mexican American families
Autobiographical comics
Imaginary companions
Mercado, Yehudi
Obesity in children

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!