Reviews for El Deafo

by Cece Bell

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community ("IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?") and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell's earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe ("eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!"), and her invention of an alter ego-the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters ("How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?" she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)-all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece's predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8-12. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

When cartoonist Bell was four years old, a case of meningitis left her severely deaf. In this graphic memoir, she tells readers about the friends and family who help her adjust, the frustration she feels when learning to communicate, and the devices she uses to assist her hearing, most notably the Phonic Ear, a large machine that connects to a microphone her teachers wear and amplifies sounds in her hearing aids. Aside from making school easier, the Phonic Ear gives Bell a superpower: when her teachers forget to doff the microphone, she can still hear them anywhere in the school (including the bathroom!). She keeps her newfound superpower a secret and daydreams about being El Deafo, a super alter ego whose deafness makes her powerful. Bell's bold and blocky full-color cartoons perfectly complement her childhood stories she often struggles to fit in and sometimes experiences bullying, but the cheerful illustrations promise a sunny future. This empowering autobiographical story belongs right next to Raina Telgemeier's Smile (2011) and Liz Prince's Tomboy.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Starred Review. Gr 2-6-Cece loses her hearing from spinal meningitis, and takes readers through the arduous journey of learning to lip read and decipher the noise of her hearing aid, with the goal of finding a true friend. This warmly and humorously illustrated full-color graphic novel set in the suburban '70s has all the gripping characters and inflated melodrama of late childhood: a crush on a neighborhood boy, the bossy friend, the too-sensitive-to-her-Deafness friend, and the perfect friend, scared away. The characters are all rabbits. The antics of her hearing aid connected to a FM unit (an amplifier the teacher wears) are spectacularly funny. When Cece's teacher leaves the FM unit on, Cece hears everything: bathroom visits, even teacher lounge improprieties It is her superpower. She deems herself El Deafo! inspired in part by a bullied Deaf child featured in an Afterschool Special. Cece fearlessly fantasizes retaliations. Nevertheless, she rejects ASL because it makes visible what she is trying to hide. She ventures, "Who cares what everyone thinks!" But she does care. She loathes the designation "special," and wants to pass for hearing. Bell tells it all: the joy of removing her hearing aid in summer, the troubles watching the TV when the actor turns his back, and the agony of slumber party chats in the dark. Included is an honest and revealing afterword, which addresses the author's early decision not to learn ASL, her more mature appreciation for the language, and her adage that, "Our differences are our superpowers."- Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A humorous and touching graphic memoir about finding friendship and growing up deaf. When Cece is 4 years old, she becomes "severely to profoundly" deaf after contracting meningitis. Though she is fitted with a hearing aid and learns to read lips, it's a challenging adjustment for her. After her family moves to a new town, Cece begins first grade at a school that doesn't have separate classes for the deaf. Her nifty new hearing aid, the Phonic Ear, allows her to hear her teacher clearly, even when her teacher is in another part of the school. Cece's new ability makes her feel like a superherojust call her "El Deafo"but the Phonic Ear is still hard to hide and uncomfortable to wear. Cece thinks, "Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone." Bell (Rabbit Robot: The Sleepover, 2012) shares her childhood experiences of being hearing impaired with warmth and sensitivity, exploiting the graphic format to amplify such details as misheard speech. Her whimsical color illustrations (all the human characters have rabbit ears and faces), clear explanations and Cece's often funny adventures help make the memoir accessible and entertaining. Readers will empathize with Cece as she tries to find friends who aren't bossy or inconsiderate, and they'll rejoice with her when she finally does. Worthy of a superhero. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

At age four Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her deaf. This graphic-novel memoir relates how she adapted to deafness, others' attitudes toward it, and to a cumbersome assistive device. At the heart of her story is an experience relevant to most children: finding the "True Friend," a falling out, a reunion. Bell combines humor and charm (her characters are anthropomorphized bunnies) with emotional complexity. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.