Eric Bittle loves three things: skating, baking pies, and vlogging. Somehow, that combination has landed him a scholarship at Massachusetts’ Samwell University, where he joins the ice hockey team. Idiosyncratic teammates provide a surprising kinship network for Bittle as he moves away from his home state of Georgia, acclimates to college life, and comes out. But while his fellow players take to his pies and tolerate his resistance to being hit on the ice, they reach their threshold with Bittle’s singing throughout all hours of the day and night. This series opener collects the drama, mishaps, successes, and romance of Bittle’s first two years at college from Ukazu’s webcomic of the same name. The art relies on thick linework and facial shots to tell the story, playing to Ukazu’s knack for pithy, personality-showing dialogue. Ukazu blends a series of tropes (coming-of-age, coming out, an outsider finding acceptance) into one coherent, amusing tale. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
A Boston Globe Best YA Book of 2018
YALSA William C. Morris 2018 Finalist
"Check, Please! is very much a thing of our time in its approach to gay identity and romance... There's no big coming-out scene, no 'convert the lone homophobe' drama, no storyline cooked up just to educate the reader about the gay experience. Bitty doesn't need any of that, and Ukazu gives the reader credit for not needing it either." NPR
"Check, Please an endlessly delightful web comic about hockey, baking, and bros." Den of Geek
"Check Please! is the perfect reminder of the growth in queer narratives we’ve gotten in the past few years...filled with cute romance, zero toxic masculinity, and a really great sense of male comradery that’s refreshing to read." The Mary Sue
"Ukazu, who began Bitty’s story as an uberpopular webcomic, folds in plenty of hockey terms and highlights team camaraderie while skillfully dismantling themes of toxic masculinity…A slow-burn same-sex romance is just the icing on the cake (sorrypie) in this irresistibly fun and utterly charming sports story. Volume two can’t come fast enough" Booklist, starred review
"This is a warm story with an irresistible protagonist, a clever supporting cast, and lively and plentiful game and practice scenes... A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The art relies on thick linework and facial shots to tell the story, playing to Ukazu’s knack for pithy, personality-showing dialogue. Ukazu blends a series of tropes (coming-of-age, coming out, an outsider finding acceptance) into one coherent, amusing tale." Publishers Weekly
Gr 10 Up—Originally created as a webcomic, this tale follows junior champion figure skater and small-town Georgia boy Eric "Bitty" Bittle as he begins freshman year on the Samwell University varsity hockey team. An avid video blogger, recipe fanatic, and pie baker extraordinaire, Bitty is bewildered by his new world of bros, kegsters, and aggressive "checking"—roughness that wasn't allowed in his coed hockey league back home. In addition, he is still unsure how to tell his tough guy team members that he's gay. However, despite some disheartening setbacks, eternal optimist Bitty is determined to overcome his checking anxiety, work his heart out, and win over the guys—and his handsome team captain—even if it means bribing everyone with homemade pecan pie. Although this appears to be a simple sports comic at first glance, it is far more complex. Through a combination of hilarious team banter, foodie humor, and a lovable main character, Ukazu has crafted a compelling story about acceptance, identity, and confidence. She expertly uses bold colors and exaggerated facial expressions, such as Bitty's large eyes, to convey emotion. VERDICT Although casual profanity, a few crass jokes, and some alcohol use make this a comic best suited for mature teens, this endearing volume is a must-have for YA graphic novel collections. Sure to resonate with hockey fans and sports newbies alike.—Lara Goldstein, Orange County Public Libraries, NC
A pie-baking hockey player from small-town Georgia begins college and settles into jock culture.
Eric "Bitty" Bittle's dreams are coming true: He is starting college on the hockey team at Samwell University in Massachusetts. Bitty played hockey and figure skated competitively; unfortunately, the coed team back home did not allow "checking," or physical contact, and Bitty's fear of being hit becomes a real impediment in college hockey. Bitty's team captain, Jack Zimmerman, "the hockey prince," is determined to break Bitty of his fear of being checked. Despite Jack's mercurial nature, Bitty develops a serious crush on the attractive athlete. As the practices and games develop, Bitty forms bonds with the other players and, after coming out, settles into college life. When sophomore year rolls around, Bitty has to face that two of his closest teammates are seniors and will be leaving soon. Based on a popular webcomic, this is a warm story with an irresistible protagonist, a clever supporting cast, and lively and plentiful game and practice scenes. There are many themes here: acceptance, standing up to fear, and finding your place, to name a few. Despite its episodic style, the humor and heart at the center of the story carry it through. The art relies on expressive facial shots to complement the snappy and sometimes-raunchy dialogue. Bitty is white, and there is some diversity in secondary characters.
A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens. (Graphic novel. 14-18)