A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 2015 Newbery Honor Book El Deafo by Cece Bell is a sweet, funny, and affecting graphic memoir of growing up with a hearing impairment. From kindergarten onward, Cece wants a best friend to call her own, but her deafness and feelings of insecurity sometimes get in her way. She has an unrequited crush on a neighbor boy, and the only strong language is a character saying someone's making her life "hell." In two scenes, adults drink wine and smoke cigarettes.
What's the story?
A bout with meningitis at age 4 leaves Cece with impaired hearing. As she goes off to first grade, she wears the Phonic Ear, a giant hearing aid strapped to her chest. Although she can understand some conversations, she still misses a lot of what's being said by those around her. She wants nothing more than to have a best friend, but can the Phonic Ear provide a way to find one?
Is it any good?
Funny, perceptive, and truthful, EL DEAFO expertly captures the experience of wanting to fit in and find a best friend, whether you're deaf or can hear perfectly. Young Cece is a hugely likable main character, alternately feisty and insecure, engrossed in her fantasy life while attuned to the pitfalls of reality. Cartoonist Cece Bell may use anthropomorphic rabbits as stand-ins for her characters, but their humanity shines through on every page.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways in which people with hearing impairments are depicted in the media. What books, movies, or TV shows address deafness with sensitivity and truth?
Why do you think the author of El Deafo depicts all the characters as rabbits? How would the story change if the human characters were presented realistically?
Why is it sometimes difficult to make new friends? What can you do to make the process easier?
- Author: Cece Bell
- Illustrator: Cece Bell
- Genre: Autobiography
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: September 2, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 248
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Newbery Medal and Honors
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