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El Deafo Book Review

Title: El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1419712173

248 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I am so happy that Cece Bell's El Deafo got some Newbery love as it was named an Honor Winner earlier this month.

This graphic novel is funny, sweet, honest, touching, and true. It deserves all the accolades and awards and fans that it has.

Cece Bell got meningitis when she was four years old and became profoundly deaf. She has used this life experience to create El Deafo, which was the nickname she gave herself. She went to a regular school and to help her hear the teacher, she wore a Phonic Ear. The device amplified the teacher's voice, but unknown the the teacher, Cece was able to hear the teacher wherever she went throughout the school. Including the bathroom!

Cece thought of this as her superhero power, but it was a secret power that she didn't share with anyone. She was ashamed of the Phonic Ear and of being different.

The story centers on how Cece dealt with being different when she desperately wanted to fit in and how she learned she could have friends by being herself.

The artwork is perfect for tween readers, bright and colorful, and anthropomorphizing the characters into rabbits is a cute way to emphasize ears and hearing.

While El Deafo is specific to a hearing disability, it is universal in its story of being proud of who you really are. Put this in the hands of fans of Raina Telgemeier.

Bonus video: Cece Bell discusses El Deafo


  1. I read this book with my high school deaf and hard of hearing students and they loved it! They could relate to Cece in many aspects of deafness, even though the hearing aid devices have advanced so much and they have not seen a device like the Phonic Ear. This book is wonderful because it covers many themes and addresses many different topics that kept discussion groups going. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's enjoyable for people across the age spectrum!


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