Saturday, June 26, 2021

Cartoon Saturday- Chunky

Mercado, Yehudi. Chunky
June 22nd 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Netgalley

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  the imaginary friend 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!

No comments:

Post a Comment