Starting at a new school is scary, especially with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here, she’s different. She’s sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom but anywhere her teacher is in the school—in the hallway . . . in the teacher’s lounge . . . in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different . . . and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?
The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her "superpower." "Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for"--
Another thing Bell states in her conclusion is that "I am an expert on no one's deafness but my own". I frequently say something like this, to people who ask me what it's like to be deaf.
But, yeah, I would recommend this book to both hearing and deaf alike. Those who are strongly affiliated with ASL (especially those who are militaristic about using it) may be disappointed with Cece's choice of communicating, but they probably can identify with some aspects such as feeling different, having to endure teasing, and so forth. It's written for younger readers/Young Adults, and my 14-year-old did enjoy reading this memoir as well.
First, let me be completely honest. I never read comic books or graphic novels as a kid. Up until a few years ago, I had never even picked one up.
However, I married a guy
So, when my daughter first started expressing an interest in graphic novels a year or so ago, I began to pick up the middle-grade ones. And that is how I came to read El Deafo, after seeing it on a library reading list. I studied Sign Language during undergrad, and visited Gallaudet University, one of the only university's in the world designed to be barrier-free for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. One thing that I learned is that there are lots of different ways to be deaf. In the author's note at the end of El Deafo, Cece writes about the differences in deafness, and about Deaf Culture, where sign language is the main way to communicate and deafness is seen as something that shouldn't be attempted to be "fixed" with cochlear implants and other devices.
Cece Bell makes it quite clear in her Author's Note that her experience as portrayed in her book is her experience alone, and shouldn't be viewed as "right or wrong" from anyone else's experience or perspective. I actually loved her Author's Note almost as much as the whole story, and it is definitely not something you should skip over at the end when reading El Deafo.
In this semi-autobiographical graphic novel, we are introduced to the story of a young rabbit named Cece who loses her hearing after a serious illness at a young age. It is the story of a girl - rabbit - growing up with a serious hearing impairment: how she felt, and how she handled the insecurities she felt when people treated her differently.
I loved how so much of the story is a humourous take on her personal journey through early childhood - particularly the elementary school years. First, she attends a school for deaf children, which is where she learns to lipread. However, her family soon moves to a new town and she has to leave the school that she loves. At her new school, Cece uses what is called a Phonic Ear, a bulky device that helps her hear the teacher. Cece creates a superhero alter-ego, El Deafo, to help cope with the trials that come along with adjusting to a new school and trying to make new friends while also getting used to the Phonic Ear. We get to see Cece's innermost thoughts and daydreams as she interacts with her family, friends, and teachers. The illustrations are thoroughly appealing and incredibly cute, I really love that Cece choose rabbits instead of people for this book.
In El Deafo, we get to spend six years with Cece Bell. I wish it was more! Cece the rabbit is resilient, heart-warming, and incredibly funny. El Deafo, which is both written and illustrated by Cece Bell, is a beautiful gift for children and adults alike.
When Cece was a toddler she contracted meningitis and lost
Rather than making her memoir one of tragic loss, she recounts her childhood through elementary school as the backstory for a superhero — El Deafo — with super hearing abilities. Because Cece draws herself (and everyone else) as a rabbit, her ears are big enough to highlight the various hearing aids she's given to use.
The best hearing aid, both for being able to hear the teacher in class, and for her super hero abilities, is the Phonic Ear. It's a microphone transmitter that sends to the receiver she wears. If the teacher forgets to take it off, then Cece can hear everything the teacher does (like take breaks in the teachers' lounge, eating, or even using the toilet)!
Young Cece, above all, wanted to be accepted by her classmates on her own terms. That journey involved learning how to lip read (and realizing all the frustrating situations where lip reading doesn't work), and enjoying TV in the days before closed captioning was commonplace, and annoying people who want to use her deafness to boost their own feelings of self worth.
Anyway, I could go on for hours about how much my daughter and I love this book. She and I literally had a few tugs-of-war over the book to see who would get to it next. Likewise, every person I've shown the book has enjoyed reading it. It's just one of those universal coming of age stories that is relatable to everyone through its use of humor.
This book is about a who is deaf and then needs glass. She pretends to be a superhero because of the microphone on her teacher. She can
Personal Reaction: I could easily read this because it was set up like a comic book so it did not make the book seem as long. I also enjoyed too because i am going into special education and to read a book of a child with a disability and to see the fears and adventures she encounters throughout the story could help me as a teacher one day.
Classroom Extension: Make everyone deaf during a time where the students are learning vocabulary words. Students have a vocab word on their head and have to walk around the room and ask for synonyms, antonyms, rhyming words, definitions, etc... to guess their word.
More than that, it’s hard to make friends. When she returns to her neighborhood school with students without a hearing impairment, she has to wear a bulky Phonic Ear hearing aid, and she feels it makes her stand out. The Phonic Ear does come with a microphone that her teacher wears around her neck. Cece can hear her clearly and without distortion. Then she discovers that she has a secret superpower that the other kids don’t have. She can hear what the teacher is saying and doing and what’s going on wherever the teacher goes, even in the teacher’s lounge, even in the bathroom! So when the teacher leaves the room she puts on her superpower and becomes, "El Deafo, Listener for All," the sonar listening post that can warn her classmates of the teacher’s return!