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El deafo
2014
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Domestic
Graphic novel
Juvenile
Topics
Deaf children
Deafness
Children with disabilities
Loneliness
Alter-egos
Self-acceptance
Friendship
Time Period
-- 20th-21st century
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  Publishers Weekly Review

A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community ("IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?") and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell's earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe ("eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!"), and her invention of an alter ego-the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters ("How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?" she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)-all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece's predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8-12. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
El Deafo is a funny, deeply honest graphic novel memoir for middle graders. It chronicles the author's hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with a powerful and very awkward hearing aid called the Phonic Ear. It gives her 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, Phonic Ear and all. Finally, she is 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.
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