Book Review: El Deafo

March 25, 2015

El Deafo by Cece Bell
From Miss Caroline at Main Library

We always look forward to the beginning of the year because that's when the Newbery and Caldecott Medal awards are announced.  This year brought us another huge list of great books to read, including the winners, the honors, and other books of note.  You can see the entire list and chose some good ones for yourself!

Graphic novels (or Comic Style Fiction, as we like to say) are becoming more and more popular.  While it didn't win the Newbery Medal, El Deafo, by Cece Bell received a Newbery Honor, and is a fantastic introduction to the genre.  Not only is the story told through pictures, it also features a main character with a hearing deficit who struggles to be the same as all the other kids, something that many of us can relate to.

From the publisher's summary:  "Going to school and making new friends can be tough.  But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest?  That requires superpowers!  In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid.  The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates.  She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is.  After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All."  And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for."

This is a wonderful autobiographical account of author Cece Bell when she was a child.  It's important to note, that despite her struggles as a child, Cece has become quite a successful children's author and illustrator.  Her story will inspire and encourage children of all abilities to become super in their own way.  El Deafo is Cece's first book for older children, but hopefully not her last!

See all of Cece Bell's books in our catalog.

More from the Web

  • Check out this interview from NPR

  • Here's a good bio that talks about why Cece chose the graphic memoir format

  • This teaching guide has some great ideas for using El Deafo in the classroom

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