Cover Image: Chunky

Chunky

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Member Reviews

E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Hudi's doctors want him to lose weight, especially since he had a lung removed after an infection at the age of five. His mother is always giving him a hard time about what he is eating, and his father, who is very athletic, wants him to try to find a sport he enjoys so he can get more exercise. In his mind, he has an imaginary friend he calls Chunky who cheers him on in everything he does. While sports are not Hudi's passion (he would rather make people laugh by telling jokes, and has his eye on the theater program), he tries soccer, swimming, and tennis, always managing to get injured enough to end up in the emergency room. This is a hardship for his parents, who struggle to make ends meet but always make sure that Hudi and his sisters have what they need. When his father loses his job, his sister's bat mitzvah is in jeopardy until grandparents step in to help. His father finds work out of town, and Hudi is approached by the football coach to be on the team, because of his large size instead of in spite of it. For a while, Hudi throws himself into the violence of football, but doesn't really enjoy it. Will his parents ever realize that Hudi's strength lies in his ability to make other's laugh?
Strengths: There are not enough middle grade books about personal identity. This is such a huge concern for so many tween and teen readers, who dwell so much on what other people think about them. Seeing memoirs or stories about other kids trying to figure out who they are is interesting and somewhat helpful for them. Developing a passion for something, exploring different activities, and coming to terms with immutable facts about one's body and appearance takes up so much middle grade brain space that it is amazing that any school work ever gets done! Mercado does a great job of exploring all of these facets with humor and a fairly healthy level of self acceptance. He seems to be a bit younger than I am, but doctors were definitely putting children on diets when I was young! The inclusion of the author's Jewish and Latinx background, as well as the depiction of economic difficulties with his family, give a much needed bit of diversity to the body of graphic novel memoirs. This book will never get back to the shelves!
Weaknesses: The appearance of Chunky makes this seem a bit younger, but this is a solidly middle grade book. The story would have been successful without him, but his inclusion does make for an intriguing cover.
What I really think: Graphic novel memoirs like Tatulli's Short and Skinny and Copeland's Cub are some of my favorites because they are humorous while delivering more serious messages about personal identity. There are certainly other graphic novels that are autobiographical, but it's the humor that appeals most to my readers. Definitely purchasing this one, and have just the readers in mind for it!
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I overall really enjoyed this graphic novel, especially the mascot, Chunky. It can be difficult as a child being different, so the message of self acceptance and following what makes you happy is a good lesson. I do appreciate that the worries of the parents and the struggles of his health were also highlighted in the story. It’s a nuanced topic. Being pushed into a role that doesn’t fit who you are isn’t going to lead to happiness, and many kids try hard to please others before finding what brings them happiness.
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This is a lovely nonfiction (with bits of magical realism) take about Hudi, a young boy who is constantly going to the doctor dealing with health issues and the struggle of his parents pushing him into sports. I appreciated that Hudi kept trying no matter what, even when none of these sports clearly were his thing. He's a very sympathetic character and Chunky is a book a lot of kids and adults can gain hope from. I look forward to more from this author in tbe future!
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Graphic novels are very popular right now. I love that this book addresses issues that are relevant to kids. It helps them understand the issue in a well written and entertaining way.
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I have loved everything Yehudi Mercado has done thus far, so as soon as I saw this ARC was available, I immediately clicked download! Middle grade graphic novel memoirs, like those Raina Telgemeier, are absolutely the best circulating items in our juvenile graphic novel collection. Even with the slight magical realism element of Chunky himself that makes this just a little different from other memoirs, this book is going to check out like hotcakes! Mercado's art is gorgeous and colorful as always! So many kids are going to feel seen by this book and I can't wait to put in on our shelves!
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Adorable, relatable, and real are the first words that come to mind regarding Chunky. Showing intersections of gender expectations, religion, and culture, Chunky is an excellent introduction to how different people live in the world.
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This graphic novel is based on the author's childhood, and is very entertaining. I laughed out loud multiple times, and even though the advance copy that I read was mostly still in black-and-white, the first few chapters were already in color, and the coloring was AMAZING. The art is great, and the colors are vibrant and fun, with a great use of light.

The story revolves around a Mexican-Jewish kid who is pushed into sports as a way to lose weight. The book involves issues related to his size and to his physical challenges related to lung issues, but will also be relatable to any kid who has ever been expected to do an activity that they have no interest in. I found this hilarious, and Hudi's imaginary mascot, who is pictured on the cover, added even more energy and humor to an already great story.

I would recommend this to both children and adults. People who share the author's ethnic background or experiences with weight will find this book especially appealing and relatable, but it's fun for anyone, and is a really clever story. I want to read this again when it's published, and it's a must-buy for public and school libraries.
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A fun. light-hearted middle grade graphic memoir about a boy who is torn between pleasing his dad (who was quite the jock in his day) and following his dreams of being a comedian on SNL. Half-Mexican, half-Jewish Yehudi, who has lung troubles and is obese, gets enrolled in a bunch of sports by his parents, hoping he will lose some weight and get healthier. Yehudi sucks at almost every sport though, and in order to cope, he develops an imaginary friend, Chunky, who encourages his comedic dreams. Add the financial hardships caused by Yehudi's penchant for getting hurt and landing in the ER coupled with his dad being laid off, and things are hard for the kid, until he and his dad find a way to come to terms with who Yehudi really is deep down.
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Yehudi Mercado adopts a polished, minimalist style he adopts in his graphic memoir Chunky: He draws his characters, including his younger self, his family, and his imaginary friend Chunky, with a few deft curves that clearly delineate not only their physiognomies but also their personalities. Mercado’s mother worries about his weight, and his father wants his son to be an athlete, but young Yehudi is chubby, klutzy, and possessed of only one lung, thanks to a childhood surgery. He wants to please his parents, but he wants even more to make people laugh. Like the drawing, the storyline is minimal but powerful. He fails at most things but succeeds at football, thanks to his size, but both Chunky and his father realize that it’s taking him in the wrong direction. Mercado manages to be both relatable and hilariously funny, and he ends each chapter with a sports-commentator-style recap that puts the events in perspective. Mercado’s humor and his deft cartooning make it a true all-ages read.
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I’ve never read anything by this author and totally picked this one on a whim just because of the cute cover. And I was not disappointed. As a fat Jew myself I related a lot to Hudi’s story. With the first chapter I worried the book might be too cheesy for my taste, but as the story progressed so did the depth and I ended up really enjoying the story. I look forward to more from this author!
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I cannot wait to share this book with my students! What a great #ownvoice memoir that many of our students can relate too. Funny and engaging.
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Read more graphic novel reviews at The Graphic Library.

Hudi's always had health problems, stemming from the removal of a lung when he was really young. His health concerns are compounded by his weight, and his doctor advices his parents to get him into sports. But, Hudi would much rather tell jokes and make people laugh than run or diet. Enter Chunky, Hudi’s imaginary mascot, here to cheer on Hudi as he tries out several sports: baseball, where he can only get on base if he's struck by the ball; soccer, where he has some success using his large stature in the role of goalie; swimming, which he really enjoyed until he hurt his thumb and can't get it wet; and football, where the agression of the sport clashes with Hudi's jovial nature. Complicating things is a strained relationship with his father, who is extremely athletic.

While Hudi grapples with some real-life health and body image issues, the humor Mercado brings to this semi-autobiographical graphic novel is genuine and wonderful. Hudi's struggle to find a sport he's good at mirrors what many people his age go through, whether it's with sports or a hobby or activity of any kind. His discovery of what's going to make him happy at the end of the story is heartwarming, and I truly felt Hudi's happiness as if it was my own. I am eager to read more from Mercado after this story, as I found his narrative voice authentic and pleasant. Mercado's illustrations are super fun with chibi-like proportions for many of his characters. Only the first few chapters were in color, but I enjoyed what was fully colored and expect the rest of the book will be similarly pleasing.

This book is billed as a middle grade title, which is perfectly appropriate. Mercado and Hudi's unique experience of growing up a Jewish Mexican-American kid in Texas is a necessary add to a well-rounded collection.

Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 6-8
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A great graphic novel to remind kids (and adults) that life is about pursuing what makes you happy and not pleasing other people or that mean voice in your head telling you that you’re not doing enough for other people’s standards. Told with humour and an imaginary friend, this was very enjoyable.
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Yehudi brings to life all the insecurities of not fitting in and trying to make your own path. I was heavier and not good at any sports growing up and I felt this was a shout out to us all out there. I wish this book was around when I young because I know it would have helped me feel accepted about being different. I was laughing and cheering Hudi on the entire book. A great middle grade fiction novel for everyone young and old!
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I thought this was cute and funny! I liked how Hud's religion was weaved in there also. I liked that he was willing to try different sports and kept going until he found something he was really good at. 
I liked his relationship with his dad also. This is a good graphic novel for middle schoolers searching to find their place. 

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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An enjoyable and relatable graphic novel for school-aged kids. I was shocked by how much I related to the main character/author. We have very different families and upbringings but being a fat kid who suffered repeated injuries in sports and tries to lose themselves in comedy and drama... that hit pretty close to home.
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This book was charming on so many levels: great illustrations, great theme; surprisingly self-aware protagonist. Plus, it's just funny. Readers can chuckle at the puns and feel the frustration when the athletically-challenged protagonist cycles through sports instead of embracing his true talents. It also touches on some difficult topics with delicacy. It's a great addition to upper elementary/middle grade libraries.
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I was unaware of who Mercando was before reading this graphic novel but now I would love to see some of his other work. This novel actually made me laugh out loud which is a rare thing. I loved rhe comedy in this book especially as someone who is athletically challenged. 
  I also really appreciated how this novel took on some heavy subjects with not only humor but grace. Mercando made sure he showcased some of the rougher aspects of his story without taking away from the sweeter or funnier aspects of thr plot. 
  Overall this was a really fun and heartwarming tale about a young boy finding his place and it is a great novel for anyone who feels they don't quite fit in.
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