Friday, September 29, 2017

ARC Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Publication: Harry N. Abrams (September 2, 2014)

Description: A 2015 Newbery Honor Book 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.

My Thoughts: This graphic novel got lost on my TBR mountain. I recently pulled out the ARC and was quickly drawn into the great story. Young Cece loses her hearing at age four and this story tells about her adventures in elementary school. Her first year is spent in a program for other kids with hearing loss which begins her education in lip reading. Through the years Cece is searching for a friend and she has a lot of them over the years from Laura the bossy to Martha who is afraid she hurt Cece after an accident they had while playing.

Along the way we see how different people - children and adults - deal with Cece and her hearing. She is often lonely and embarrassed by the phonic ear that she wears in school. She does find a way to put the fact that her teacher wears a microphone to good use though. It was interesting to see how she reacted to conversation, television and other media. It brought home to me how much we depend on hearing for understanding.

Since I was reading the ARC, I didn't see the illustrations in color and can't fully appreciate the final colored version. But I did enjoy the art in this one. The characters were visually defined and I could always tell them apart. Depicting the characters as rabbits was an inspired choice. I liked that Cece created the character of El Deafo to say what she didn't want to say and to be the hero she wanted to be. 

Fans of graphic novels, Newbery Award books, and great characters will enjoy this one.

I received this one in exchange for an honest review at NErDcampMI in 2014. You can buy your copy here.

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