Wednesday, July 23, 2014
El Deafo, by Cece Bell
A good thing about the new school is the other kids are wearing hearing aids too, and Cece is learning some useful skills like lip reading and using visual, context and gestural clues to help in understanding. Cece is just finding her way, when her family decides to leave the city and head to the country, where she will be going to a regular school.
Cece gets a brand-new-BIG-for-school-only-around-the-neck hearing aid (The Phonic Ear) that comes with a microphone for her teacher to wear and is superpowerful. What nobody expects is that it comes with the added feature of having a super long range, allowing Cece to hear not only her teacher teaching, but whatever her teacher is doing when she is out of the room as well (yes...even *that*!).
Cece has to negotiate the things that all kids go through at school - including navigating a friend who is not-so-nice, and getting her first crush. Things unique to her situation include dealing with friends who TALK TOO LOUD AND TOO SLOW, and those who refer to her as their "deaf friend".
This is more than a graphic memoir - it is a school and family story for all kids. Cece is an imaginative and emotional kid with whom readers will identify. There is an accessibility to Bell's art that immediate draws you in and you can't help but cheer with her successes and cringe with her tears. Fans of Telgemeier and Varon will readily scoop this up off of the shelves, and it *will* be passed hand to hand. I am certain I will see many doodles of Cece and her friends in the margins of writer's notebooks this coming school year. Do yourself a favor...get more than one!