Review: EL DEAFO / by Cece Bell

El Deafo, / by Cece Bell
Amulet Books     ISBN     9781419712173
INT     Grade 3-7     Rating:    4

el deafo

Author and illustrator Cece Bell pens a graphic novel about growing up hearing impaired, filled with humor, warmth, and embarrassing moments.

In El Deafo, Cece Bell lost hearing as a child after having spinal meningitis. Cece leaves her school where every student was deaf. At her new school, Cece is different than her classmates, and “feeling different is a lot like being alone” (p. 46). She tries to learn sign language but is concerned what others will think of her. Cece makes friends with other girls — Laura who bosses her around, and Ginny who speaks loud and slow, making it difficult for Cece to understand her.

Cece wears a powerful hearing aid, the Phonic Ear. Given the technology available in the 1970s, it is no surprise that the hearing aid is large and bulky, worn on the chest of the user. Certain that it will keep her from making friends, Cece is surprised to discover that she can hear her teacher in the classroom, in the hallway, even the teacher’s lounge.

Cece finds her new superpower, courtesy of the Phonic Ear, and is on her way to becoming “El Deafo, Listener for All.” Will she be able to channel this into finding a true friend?

El Deafo is a humorous full-color illustrated graphic novel set in the 1970s. Even non-fans of graphic novels will enjoy the humor and message found in El Deafo, a 2015 Newbery Honor nominee. The author includes a note about how people respond differently to being deaf and how she felt as a child experiencing hearing loss.

Recommended for school and public libraries. A welcome addition to one’s diversity collection.

Carol R. Gehringer

–reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.

Disclaimer: Book reviews are my opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.