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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

El Deafo An Entertaining Autobiographical Graphic Novel About Acceptance of Others—and Yourself

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a battle with meningitis, 4-year-old Cece Bell loses her hearing.  Thrust into a confusing new existence, she must learn how to cope with an overwhelming disability.  She's excited to start school, especially when she receives a powerful hearing aid that will help her communicate better with those around her.  Unfortunately, the Phonic Ear is such a bulky, visible instrument that it makes Cece feel even more conspicuous.  It's tough being different from her family, friends, and classmates.  Cece's emotions bounce from anger to sadness to loneliness to embarrassment to triumph when she finally learns to think of her deafness not as a disability, but as a superpower.  El Deafo won't let hearing loss stop her from being everything she wants to be.  And neither will Cece.

Author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her experiences as a deaf child in El Deafo, a graphic novel based on events that really happened to her.  Although it's a thick (and super heavy) book, the story it tells is fast, funny, and compelling.  It's very real—achingly so in places—but that's what makes it so impacting.  Reading about Cece's trials should help readers empathize with those who are "different" as well as making them realize that everyone feels out of place for some reason or another.  El Deafo is entertaining, yes, but it also teaches some important lessons about awareness, acceptance, and turning perceived weaknesses into avowed strengths.  Definitely hand this to your middle graders—they'll be better for reading it.  

(Readalikes: Reminded me a little of Wonder by R.J. Palacio)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and cartoon nudity (Cece is depicted in her underwear and without a shirt on -- cartoons are not graphic)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I meant to read this one last year, but never got to it. I'll have to look for this one. It has been recommended by many.

    1. It's good. A fast read but an interesting and entertaining one.

  2. I loved this book, especially because I have a deaf daughter named Cece. She is 3 now, but I have this book waiting for her to read when she gets older.

    1. Awesome! I'm sure she'll relate quite a bit with Cece Bell. EL DEAFO is a really popular book at my kids' elementary school right now, which is wonderful because it educates kids and helps them to realize that deaf kids are as normal as any others!

  3. Sounds like a good one for any age!

  4. I'm going to put this on my list for the library. I had heard of this book, but didn't know much about it. Thanks.


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