Personal, Insighftul and Fun to Read!


When she was four, Cece Bell had spinal meningitis. Her illness caused hearing loss, and Cece’s doctors gave her the ultimate Phonic Ear. Yes, the device helps her hear better, so she can interact with other people; but it is also super noticeable on her chest and ears. In her old school it wasn't so bad, because she was in a class full of people just like her. Things are different at her new school. Cece feels out of place. Her giant Phonic Ear seems to repel everyone, and she gets lots of awkward stares.

Then Cece discovers that, surprisingly, that her Phonic Ear has a lot of perks. First, she can hear her teacher anywhere in the school ... almost like a superpower! Calling herself El Deafo, Cece sets off on a journey to find a true friend who will stand by her side.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (17):
Cece Bell’s autobiographical novel is a truly worthwhile read that shines a light on - and accurately portrays - the experiences of people dealing with hearing loss and deafness. She uses humor and adorable illustrations to tell her own story and help the reader understand and empathize with these serious experiences. Personally, I found the details about variations in hearing difficulties and coping mechanisms very informative. 

Overall, this is a child-friendly book that can open discussions on issues of loneliness, fitting in, self-acceptance, and conflict management. Cece is a likeable character with personality whom readers will relate to and can learn from. I recommend El Deafo to  readers of all ages as book that offers new perspectives and empathy, both of which are vital to the human experience! More specifically, El Deafo would make a great gift, especially to graphic novel fans and readers who like Raina Telgemeier books and/or illustrated biography and memoir.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Every reader will find LOTS to love in Cece Bell's personal story of finding friendship, growing up, fitting in, and hearing loss.

Content Awareness Factors:

It is minor, but there is tobacco and alcohol use depicted in the story.

Type of Book:
This is a graphic novel memoir starring a young girl who turns her hearing loss into a superpower.
Educational Themes:

As our teen reader suggests, there is a lot you can explore in El Deafo: loneliness, self-esteem, conflict management. We would add: first love, new school, family dynamics, fear, a need to fit in. What would your reader add? Are there experiences shared in the book that your reader can relate to? Were they like (or unlike) Cece in dealing with those situations?

This is Cece Bell's personal story, so it is told from her perspective. If your reader were writing the story of becoming friends with a specially-abled person, how would they write their part? Would they give themselves a superpower? What would it be?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
8 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 17
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. Cece Bell books are keepers - her characters are friends that young readers want to reconnect with!

Title El Deafo
Author Cece Bell
Publisher Abrams Books for Young Readers, Imprint Abrams Books © 2014
Illustrators Cece Bell
ISBN 9781419710209
Material Hard Cover
Cost $21.95
Genres Emotions and Feelings, Biography, Comics | Graphic Novels, Self Worth, History - 1960s & 1970s, Specially Abled | Special Needs, Disabilities | Developmental Challenges
be the star you are Cybils

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Wendy Kupfer
Handfinger Press © 2012
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