Wednesday, July 30, 2014

REVIEW: El Deafo by Cece Bell

It's a bird. It's a plane. No! It's El Deafo! Cece Bell writes and illustrations the trials and tribulations of being a grade school girl growing up deaf in this graphic memoir. When she was only 4-years-old she became ill with meningitis and had a long stay in the hospital. As she was starting to feel better she realized she couldn't understand what was going on around her. Soon they discover that she has gone deaf from her illness and the learning begins. As a reader you are educated on lip reading, best ways to talk to deaf people (Stop shouting! Don't open your mouth extra wide!) and of course what it is like growing up in a world where you are different from every one else. What is very cool is that as her hearing is fading from batteries running low or broken devices you can see that reflected in the text. The word bubbles of characters start to fade into gradients of blacks, grays and whites to illustrate this point. Cece realizes that although she is different she is kind of a super hero. She can wear more compact hearing aids at home, but when she is in school she wears the large "Phonic Ear" strapped to her chest. Her teachers wear a microphone that transfers their voices to the pack. The great thing is that the teachers don't realize that the microphone still works when they walk out of the room, gossip in the teachers' lounge or even take a tinkle. Cece hears it all! What is so wonderful about this is that you are entertained throughout the book as Cece guides herself through friendships, sleep overs and phonic super powers, but you are also learning tons about what it's like growing up deaf in these situations. Plus it is all presented in a bunny world so that adds bonus points! There are also three vomiting scenes: one serious and the other two hilarious. Bell manages to balance funny situations with educational content and a super hero cape to boot! Viva El Deafo!

(Note: I read a galley and was not able to experience full color! I shall be jealous of those who do!)

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