cover image Chunky (Chunky #1)

Chunky (Chunky #1)

Yehudi Mercado. HarperCollins/Tegen, $21.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-0629-7278-1

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. (June)