Cece is about to start a new school, one where all the other kids aren’t deaf like she is. She’s got her Phonic Ear to help her hear her teacher during class, but she’s sure everyone is staring at the wires that come with it. When she discovers that the Phonic Ear allows her to hear her teacher no matter where she is in the school building, she realizes she’s been granted a rare, special power. She hopes this will be the thing that will help her make a real, true friend.
Cece Bell’s graphic novel is part fiction, part memoir, and it’s full of humor and heart with tons of kid appeal. Bell’s book features brightly colored illustrations, smart text, and a fast-paced plot that will keep readers turn the pages as they travel along with Cece as she navigates the hearing world.
There’s lots of issues explored within the pages of this novel, including finding friendship, being lonely, feeling different, and navigating the painful process of growing up. Tons of kids will relate to the insecurities Cece faces, and she provides smart insight into the issues without ever crossing over into didacticism.
The graphic aspect of the novel allows her to play around with how she experiences the world as a deaf person, and how she might mishear those around her. The result is a successful visual exploration of Cece’s deafness, and one that hearing kids will be able to grasp more fully.
Recommended. It’s an award winner and runner-up for a reason.
El Deafo by Cece Bell. Amulet/Abrams: 2014. Library copy.