Deafo, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (18 ratings)


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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Showing 1 - 5 of 18 reviews.

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Review by

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a memoir told in graphic novel format. The book is about her early childhood and time in elementary school. Bell uses adorable rabbits to tell her tale of being the only deaf kid in school and in the neighborhood.When Cece was a toddler she contracted meningitis and lost her hearing in the process — her first clue to the fact being that no one asked her if she wanted ice cream, even though her roommate was always given some.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.

Review by

I loved this book. I am obsessed with it. I love how it the book is from the point of view from a four year old that grows up and is in the third grade by the time the book ends. It had me understand how someone who becomes deaf really feels. The illustrations also helped because it showed what the hearing aid looked like but in a childish drawing. It was relatable and easy to understand. It gave me insights to how the hearing aid evolved and how the other students seemed to perceive the student. For example, in the beginning when Cece started school the students spoke to her differently since they noticed she has a hearing aid so they in a way thought less of her. At least that is how the author makes us feel she felt. As she grew up the students started accepting her hearing aid as a normal thing and realized that even though she is deaf and has a hearing aid it does not mean they had to treat her differently. The overall meaning of the book was to have to have people realize that those with a hearing loss do not have to be treated differently which can also have another meaning, equality. Treat people equal, if someone is having trouble hearing or another problem they will tell you

Review by

I enjoyed reading this graphic novel very much. This book is about a little girl, Cece, who becomes deaf after having meningitis. She starts off attending a mainstream school but feels that she does not fit in because of her “phonic ear”. On the other hand, she also feels empowered that she can hear the slightest noise that others can’t. I loved this book for the main character, Cece. The author had created this book to explain her own experiences growing up with Cece representing her. Cece is a funny, corky little girl who just wants to be herself. I think the author did a wonderful job developing the main character. Another reason why I enjoyed this book was the illustrations. The illustrations involved many different bright colors supplemented with large text. The book was had a fun, comic style that was pleasant to read. The main idea of this story is to turn something that could be seen as a “disability” into a stronger ability, or in Cece’s case, a super power!

Review by

This is a really wonderful graphic memoir for middle-grade readers (and for readers of all ages, really). CeCe Bell describes and draws her experience growing up with a hearing impairment with humor and honesty, and a healthy dose of subversion, to boot. Though the events take place in the 1970s and 80s, CeCe's struggles to make friends while hiding her "difference" will resonate with many kids.I especially enjoyed the way Bell calls our attention to the unhelpful ways some people responded to her hearing loss--I laughed every time she encounters the friend who talks incredibly slowly to her, thinking that will make it easier for CeCe to understand what she's saying (although I desperately wanted CeCe to tell her to knock it off). And there's a perfectly evil gym teacher who is about as unhelpful as is humanly possible, even breaking the microphone that transmits sound by radio frequency to CeCe's "Phonic Ear," a device she wears to hear in school. Eventually, though, CeCe and the Phonic Ear get the last laugh in a very funny scene that finally allows her to reveal that she truly is the superhero "El Deafo."

Review by

A charming, sad, and ultimately uplifting story about Cece, a young girl who goes deaf as a child in the 70s and has to navigate childhood friendships while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to her chest. Highly recommended!

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