El Deafo by Cece Bell
Honestly, this graphic novel is one of the most engaging and creative books I have read all year. It’s just astonishingly good and I think kids are going to absolutely love it.
Cece Bell already has a reputation for producing great books. She won a Geisel Award in 2013 for Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, a wonderful beginning reader that she wrote and illustrated. She also has a number of strong picture books. Among them are Sock Monkey in the Spotlight, Itty Bitty, and Crankee Doodle which her husband, Tom Angleberger, wrote and she illustrated. It’s not surprising, then, to see her tackle something as unusual and personals El Deafo.
El Deafo is Cece’s story , plain and simple. When she was four years old she contracted spinal meningitis and life was never the same for her. She lost her hearing and as much as we think we all know what that would be like, it takes Cece to tell us how baffling it really was. Why couldn’t she hear the TV, her Mom, her friends? When you are four years old how do you know that you are deaf? Cece had to adapt to a quiet world (pros and cons, she says) and especially to being different. She had something called a Phonic Ear which was a very large amplification system that hung around her neck on her chest. She wore it under her clothes to hide it but the ear buds were always visible. I have seen her Phonic Ear, by the way, and it really was unbelievably gargantuan! Cece’s art is perfection in this graphic novel. Her characters are bunnies which distances her a bit from her own story. By the time you finish this book you will have a whole new way of looking at all people and realize that each of us is different – some more obviously than others. This is a tale worth telling and I am so glad Cece has shared her experiences with all of us. This is an awesome book in every way!