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 aggression 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
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Middle School, Graphic Literature, Humor, Sports, CSLA 2021
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