El Deafo, by Cece Bell, for MMGM

I have to give a shout-out of thanks to a little girl I’m close to, for giving me the nudge to read El Deafo. I think I’d come across it, but it wasn’t till I heard how much she loved it that I pulled it to the top of my TBR pile.
Cover El Deafo
You see, this little girl–whom I’ll call Kay–is deaf. She was born without any ability to hear, thanks to a virus she and her mother contracted when her mother was pregnant with her. Kay is an energetic, warm, generous and bright-eyes girl, and she’s done really well in the hearing world thanks to hearing aids and a cochlear implant. But it hasn’t been easy. She’s sometimes felt isolated, and there are so many things that are so much harder for her than they are for hearing kids. So much Kay misses, even when everyone is trying. Since she has three hearing siblings and her parents and friends can also hear, she often felt like the only one who had to deal with these things. The. Only. One.

Then she read El Deafo, and it blew her world wide open. Even better, she got to meet the author, which thrilled her all the way down to her pinkie toes and back up to the tips of her curly hair. And I sat there listening to this and thinking–this is why we need #ownvoices. This is why we need children to have both windows–so they can see into each others’ challenges–and also mirrors, so they can clearly see themselves and be seen. Of course I knew that we needed this movement, have known it since I was a rather stranger-among-us child, myself. But I’ve never before seen with my own eyes the beauty of an #ownvoices book in action captured so well!

So, what’s this book about? Well, it’s a graphic novel told with animals–bunnies, etc.–walking around as the people, and tells the author’s own story of how she lost her hearing at a young age and coped with that through her growing up years. The isolation of being the only deaf kid in a school, the frustration of having people sign at her just because she’s deaf (even though she never learned sign language) and the typical coming-of-age challenges as she learned how to make friends, lose her heart to the new boy, and speak up for herself. What’s really neat to read is the progression as she went from being embarrassed by her difference to seeing it as her own private super power!

I highly recommend the book, not only to any kids who feel different but also for use in classrooms and family circles, because it shares so beautifully the inside scoop on this experience.

Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say:

apricot-one-ear-back-mystified“Compared to cats, every single one of you is nearly deaf. And that’s without bothering to go into all your other inadequate senses. I don’t know why some of those kids gave that girl such a hard time when she was only slightly harder of hearing than they were.”




That does…illustrate a different perspective, I suppose! And would perhaps make a good discussion topic, to go alongside the book. I think every one of us feels insufficient in some way. Too awkward, too tall, too short, too heavy, too geeky, etc. So what are the super powers that each of us can find in our own lives, the way that Cece found hers? Something to think about. 🙂

For more MMGM spotlights, reviews, posts and giveaways stop by Shannon Messenger’s blog, and happy reading!


14 comments to El Deafo, by Cece Bell, for MMGM

  • Awesome how you found out about this book. And so cool that the girl who recommended it got to meet the author.

  • Great story–both yours and the book. I love how books can help with life’s roadblocks. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be looking for this one.

  • I loved this book, and I don’t usually reach for graphic novels. But a writer friend of mine recommended it when we were visiting an indie bookstore two years ago and I reviewed it that winter, February 2015. I’m a firm believer in #ownvoices. Your friend’s story is inspiring.

    Hope you’ll visit my blog today. Also I just sent you an email.

  • Suzanne, I’m thrilled that you read this and shared it with your followers. I’m even more thrilled to read about your young friend’s experience and that she was able to meet Cece Bell. As valuable as it was for her to find herself on those pages, it is equally important, as you noted, for all of us to read such compelling stories in #ownvoices. I know you’ll be an advocate for this and other important books- keep it going, especially when it is no longer the “hot new release”. I keep in mind that as children rise up to become suitable audiences for existing books they are, indeed, the hot new book for those children.

  • This is a great book and it was a long time coming, but yeah, the best part is how much kids love it. Thanks

  • I enjoyed the story your shared about your young friend. I’m glad she found El Deafo a healing book. Glad to see this book still getting some love and attention. I wish it had been available when my daughter, who is hearing impaired, was young. Kids need to see themselves in other characters, especially those facing challenges. Even though her audiologist came to her classroom at the start of the school year to explain to the students about why my daughter wore hearing aids and an FM system in the classroom, kids are still mean. Went through a tough period in high school where she just stopped wearing them. Books like this help. There also is an entertaining/informative picture book for younger children, “Let’s Hear it for Amigal!” by Wendy Kupfer about her daughter’s experience with a cochlear implant.

    • I’m so sorry your daughter had a rough time! Kids can indeed be mean, and I really feel books are one of the best ways to fix that. I’ll check out that picture book and recommend it to my friend!

  • I’m glad to hear that this book has inspired many people. I’m grateful it provides insight to many people about challenges. Thanks for the review!

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