“El Deafo” by Cece Bell
Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Cece’s story was very easy to fall into line with. You could see how she struggled with her new found deafness as well as juggling the deafness with the normal awkwardness kids go through. I could understand why she got frustrated with her friends even though many of them were just trying to help her to the best of their abilities.
Her voice felt truly genuine. Obviously it was genuine because this was based on her life. I just mean she was able to capture the ‘kid voice’ really well. I remember having many of the same thoughts as a kid.
I really liked that she wasn’t too sorry for herself. She struggled with things from time to time but she never wallowed in self pity. I loved the idea of embracing her deafness and making her superhearing a superpower. It’s a good reminder to embrace your differences.
Bell’s artwork is adorable. Bunnies were a very cute choice for the mode of storytelling. After a while, you forgot they were bunnies because you were completely sucked into the story.
The bottom line? Wonderfully charming.