I am excited to present this podcast with Yehudi Mercado, author of Chunky and Chunky Goes to Camp. Both of his books are also memoir graphic novels, which make the books even more unique.
Chunky written and illustrated by Yehudi Mercado is a wonderful graphic novel middle grade book from start to finish. I discovered Yehudi Mercado recently on social media and immediately purchased his book.
Chunky is also based on the experiences of the author/illustrator, Yehudi Mercado, who is a Mexican Jewish boy growing up in Texas. The book begins with a trip to the doctor when Chunky is told again that he has to lose weight. What will he do? When he arrives home, he meets an imaginary friend who represents a positive mindset for Chunky throughout the book. Chunky decides to try various sports throughout the book to appease his parents, most specifically his father who is an excellent athlete. However, he just always ends up at the hospital, getting hurt. In the end, Chunky discovers his true talent and the place that feels like he truly belongs.
I love this book for many reasons! There are few books available for middle-grade boys about the topic of feeling less masculine because they don’t like to play sports.
I also discussed this topic during a podcast with Dr. Janet Sasson Edgette, who wrote The Last Boy Picked here.
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Chunky is an ideal book for both the classroom and home library. This book also highlights how humor helps him get through tough situations in his life including his medical issues, feeling different, and wanting to make his father proud. In the back of the book, Yehudi also talks about the name Chunky…
“Being ‘Chunky’ isn’t about being fat. Being Chunky is about feeling you don’t fit in. As a Mexican Jewish kid with loads of health problems growing up in Houston, Texas, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. It wasn’t until I discovered theater, that I felt like I finally found my people.” Yehudi Mercado, Authors Note 2021.
When reading this book with your child, here are some discussion questions to start with!
Why do you think Yehudi meets an imaginary mascot?
How does Yehudi feel when he gets hurt when trying different sports?
Why does he want to play sports? Is he doing it for himself or others?
Have you ever tried to like something for someone else?
What activity does Yehudi like the most and why?
How do you think Yehudi’s father feels during the football game?
To learn more about Yehudi Mercado and his other books, visit his website here!
Chunky Goes to Camp is another excellent graphic novel written and illustrated by Yehudi Mercado. The book begins with Yehudi constantly getting in trouble at school for his humourous and mischievous personality. His parents decide to send him to a sleepaway camp. This Jewish sleepaway camp seems like a nightmare at first until he meets his friend, Pepe who changes everything for Yehudi. They have so much in common, including being Hispanic and Jewish. Chunky Goes To Camp is a perfect read for anyone going to camp this summer. To learn more about this book, listen to our podcast together. The book releases June 14th, so pre-order now to get your copy!
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Yehudi Mercado was born in Mexico City and raised in Texas. He was an Art Director at Disney Interactive where he co-wrote and art directed the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY mobile game then segued into writing and illustrating his own graphic novels like FUN FUN FUN WORLD, HERO HOTEL, ROCKET SALVAGE and SCI-FU. He was the showrunner for a narrative podcast for the Pinna Network based on his graphic novel HERO HOTEL. He’s currently writing a Mexican family adventure for DreamWorks Feature animation. His new middle-grade graphic memoir CHUNKY (for Harper-Collins/ For Katherine Tegen’s imprint) was featured in the New York Times Book Review. He also has a two-book deal with DC Comics for a SHAZAM and a BATMAN middle grade graphic novel. To learn more about Yehudi, visit his website here.