Bell, Cece. El Deafo. New York: Abrams, 2014.
I thought this book would be interesting to read for a number of reasons. First of all, it reminded me of my colleagues Elaine and Eden and their work with students with deafness or auditory impairments. Second, it was a Newberry Honor Book in 2015. Third, I thought it was on this year’s Bluebonnet Master list. It was a trifecta of good reasons to read it. When I sat down to write this blog posting, I was highly disappointed to learn that I had confused lists and it is not on this year’s Bluebonnet list. It is a great book so maybe someone will recommend it for another year.
I didn’t have a copy of this book in my collection, so I ordered it online. I was surprised to find that it was a graphic novel. It is Cece Bell’s attempt to capture her memories and feelings about the loss of her hearing and its impact on her life.
An emerging fashionista at age four, Cece was a normal, happy girl. Her life changed drastically one day. She developed meningitis. Once recovered, her hearing loss was discovered and she was fitted with hearing aids. Even with hearing aids, she had trouble understanding all the speech around her. At a school for students with hearing loss, she learned how visual, context and gestural cues could help her better understand what the people in her life were saying.
At the end of that school year she moved and was enrolled in a typical school. Would she have friends? Would she be able to understand? The change was not an easy one. It is hard being different. A chance remark from the television caused her to coin her own nickname, “El Deafo”. Her difference was her superpower. In her new school what would happen? Would she have any new friends? Would El Deafo find her superhero sidekick and best friend? Read this book and find out!
With her sense of adventure and courage, Cece learned to live in our hearing world. She grew up to be an author and an illustrator! Here’s a link to her website, you can read more about Cece and the other books she has written: https://cecebell.wordpress.com.
One more fact, I did get more than a trifecta and more for this book. It was really fun to read! And for all you comic book/graphic novel lovers, it won an 2015 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12). The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered the “Oscars” of the comics world. Named for the pioneering comics creator and graphic novelist Will Eisner, the awards are given out in more than two dozen categories during a ceremony each year at Comic-Con International: San Diego.