Bell, Cece. El Deafo. Amulet Books, 2014. 233 pages. Hardcover $18.71, ISBN 978-1-41971-020-9; Tr. $9.36, ISBN 978-1-41971-217-3; PLB $14.41, ISBN 978-1-48984-422-4
TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes
Genre: Biography/Memoir (Graphic Nonfiction)
Part of a series? No.
This graphic “novel” tells the true story of Cece Bell’s childhood, and her experience with meningitis that took away her hearing. With characters drawn as rabbits in order to emphasize how different Cece’s ears were to those of her family, friends, and classmates, El Deafo explores what it is like to feel so different — and how that difference can set you apart in painful and cool ways.
Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:
Bell’s book (writing and illustrations) work together to tell this extremely engaging story. Deaf and hearing readers will have something to learn and enjoy in reading this story, and Bell makes it clear in her afterword that one d/Deaf person’s story is not the same as another’s.
Curriculum Ties/Library Use:
This would be a fantastic book club book. I think that the major thing I would want to focus on is a discussion of what it means to have different abilities; perhaps we could watch a documentary on Deaf culture. We can also make superhero versions of ourselves based on the things that make us different. (Idea from myself)
Grade Level: 3-6
Awards and Starred Reviews:
ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2015
Horn Book Magazine starred 11/1/14
Kirkus Reviews starred 9/1/14
Newbery Honor 2015
Publishers Weekly starred 7/7/14
School Library Journal starred 9/1/14
Berry, M. (n. d.). El Deafo (Review of the book El Deafo). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/el-deafo
Kirkus Reviews. (2014, July 22). El Deafo (Review of the book El Deafo). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/cece-bell/el-deafo/
Publishers Weekly. (2014, July 7). El Deafo (Review of the book El Deafo). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4197-1020-9
Warnings: Vomit appears three times in the novel and is drawn as the act of vomiting (i.e., it happens “on the page” rather than “offstage”)
Tags: Deaf culture, hard of hearing, graphic novels, vomit, memoir, rabbits, imagination, superheroes