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El Deafo

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  36,172 Ratings  ·  4,553 Reviews
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is 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
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
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Kathleen I am reading it to my 7 year old...again. We read it when she was 5 and she liked it ok, but now she is really enjoying it. I enjoy reading it to her…moreI am reading it to my 7 year old...again. We read it when she was 5 and she liked it ok, but now she is really enjoying it. I enjoy reading it to her too so a wide range. :) (less)
Sarah K. Yes this book is also considered a Biography because it is about the author as a child.

Community Reviews

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Rick Riordan
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Middle grade/young adult graphic novel. In comic book form, Cece Bell tells the story of a young girl (rabbit?) growing up with a severe hearing impairment. She does a great job tackling the subject with humor and pathos, letting us see the world through the narrator's eyes (and hear through her super Phonic Ear). Along the way, we meet pushy friends, clueless peers, helpful teachers, not-so-helpful siblings, and a whole cast of other characters that any kid can relate to. A great novel for rais ...more
Raeleen Lemay
This was so great! I didn't realize before reading it that it's semi autobiographical, which was a nice surprise. I really enjoyed getting a personal account of what Cece went through and how she felt growing up deaf.

I highly recommend this book, to people of all ages!
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
My heart is so happy. This was absolutely adorable. And so informative!
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

This is the autobiographical story of Cece Bell and her experiences of going to school as the only deaf kid in the class. From her own insecurities to people treating her different, Cece found a coping mechanism in the form of “El Deafo” a superhero with nerves of steel who Cece imagined saying and doing everything she only wished she was brave enough to . . . .

This is a great book for youngsters. Aside from pointing out the obvious f
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Our differences are our superpowers.”

Starting and ending the day with a good read will never grow tired on me.

El Deafo 6-- bookspoils
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is 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.

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about gr
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Deaf people in general and hearing people in particular
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I wanted to read this book.

I’m not going to show any other picture from the book because I’d end up highlighting everything and you’d kill me in the process.

So I will post nothing. Read the book yourself.

This is not the first book about deaf people I’ve read but I always got the impression authors have deafness kind of “idealized”. The picture someone has when thinking about deaf people is the person who hears nothing and says nothing and communicates v
Trina (Between Chapters)
Amazing! Highly recommend to anyone. Great ownvoices deafness representation. Loved how childhood friendships were portrayed. I think any kid would get a lot out of this story (and adults too!), be it identifying with Cece's story, or relating to feelings of being different, or understanding their peers.
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of Raina Telgemeir's graphic novels based on her childhood. When she blurbed El Deafo, I knew I would enjoy it.

Cece loses her hearing at the age of four as a result of sudden illness. All at once, she has to relearn how to communicate with those around her, including family and friends. School turns out to be a bit tricky, since she can't read her teacher's lips at all times. Not to worry. Phonic Ear to the rescue!
 photo image_zpsmvwvy7ep.png
Cece's Phonic Ear hearing aid gives her superpowers, but it also makes
Rachel Reads Ravenously
3 I liked it stars

***Reading level 8-12 years but all ages can enjoy***

After a sudden illness strikes Cece when she is four, she finds herself hearing impaired after recovering. Her doctors have given her a device to wear which helps her hear, but it’s very noticeable being strapped to her chest and having cords in her ears. Over the years Cece faces many trials brought on by her impairment, from being made fun of, to friends wanting to be friends so they can have a “deaf friend”, to people sh
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
El Deafo is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel by author Cece Bell. Cece becomes deaf at the age of four after contracting meningitis. She must use a hearing aid, but sometimes the words she hears are garbled and she must rely on visual clues and lip reading to clearly understand. Cece eventually moves, leaving behind her best friend, and starts a new school. She gets a new hearing aid that is much stronger called "The Phonic Ear." The teacher wears a microphone around her neck so that Cece c ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Cece Bell uses the graphic novel format to tell her own story of hearing loss and the imagination of a child going through it. I thought it was fantastic, presenting real issues like how friendships change, the balancing of the best technology with the most comfortable technology, resistance to learning ASL, etc. Some of my favorite moments were just in the artistic representations, particularly a few pages on the trampoline. And who wouldn't love the character of El Deafo, the superhero who fea ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a gift Cece Bell has given us in this fantastic graphic novel. It is a very realistic portrayal of her own elementary school experiences: her illness and hearing impairment, moving, adjusting to a new school, a giant hearing aid, trying to make friends, and the many different reactions to her deafness. I found both her and her alter ego El Deafo to be honest, smart, and funny. A wonderful story about growing up and learning the strengths in our differences.

**I actually took this out of the
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We appear to exist in a golden age of children’s graphic novel memoirs. Which is to say, there are three of them out this year (El Deafo, Sisters, and The Dumbest Idea Ever). How to account for the sudden tiny boom? If I were to harbor a guess I’d say it has something to do with publishers realizing that the genre can prove a profitable one (hat tip then to Smile). We’re beginning to enter into an era where the bulk of the gatekeepers out there, be they parents or teachers or librarians, are vie ...more
David Schaafsma
7/21/17 Reread for my summer YA Graphic novels class, the memoir of a girl who has lost much of her hearing, gets bullied for it, but transforms her sense of herself by thinking of herself as a superhero, El Deafo! Great for any kids who are being bullied for being different. From the time I first read this three years ago and now, this has become a staple in American elementary and middle schools, yay!

9/13/14 Bell's memoir about her hearing impairment, brought on by meningitis when she was 4 ye
Deborah Markus
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I hate to say that this book taught me a lot about what people with hearing impairments have to deal with – not because it isn't true, but because it might make the book sound preachy. And it isn't. It's straightforward and direct and a fun, fascinating read.

The premise is simple: Cece sustains illness-induced hearing loss at a very young age, and both she and the reader must puzzle their way through a newly tricky world.

I liked two things especially about this story. First, Cece's struggles to
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I've never really been a fan of graphic novels. I appreciate the effort that goes in them, but for the most part, they don't do anything for me. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three books of this genre that I've found noteworthy: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, My Friend Dahmer, and The Complete Maus. The common thread among these three: each have an autobiographical component, and while fanciful, are all grounded in reality.

I was attracted to Cece Bell's El De
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
A small bunny gets meningitis and loses her hearing. This graphic novel is about how she learns to deal with other people and their reactions to 'the deaf girl.'

Wow, sounds pretty lame and after-school-special, right? WRONG. This book is so cute and funny. And Cece is sassy, you'll be cheering for her all the way.

It's so hard and frustrating when people treat her like she's different - or even worse, 'special.' She just wants to yell at them and tell them to treat her normal! But she's pretty sw

When she is four years old, Cece loses most of her hearing following a bout of meningitis. She is quickly fitted with hearing aids which, combined with lipreading, help her understand what people are saying -- so long as she can see their mouths, or they're not cartoons on TV, making nonsense shapes instead of words.

Thanks to the Phonic Ear, which has a microphone that allows teachers' words to travel directly to Cece's ears, she's mainstreamed in school. She does well, but suffers insecurity d
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
CeCe Bell's graphic novel memoir is a standout, both as an exemplar for the form and for its message. While I knew that CeCe has hearing loss, I enjoyed getting to know CeCe better through this story. I think many children will relate to her struggles to form meaningful, healthy friendships and her journey toward self-acceptance.

Merphy Napier
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This memoir about a young girl who lost her hearing as a child and learning to navigate her new life, was heart-warming and educational. I recommend this for all ages. You'll learn so much about how to interact with someone with hearing difficulties and see a little in their eyes.
Stacey (prettybooks)
El Deafo is one of the best graphic novels I've read, about Cece Bell growing up with a severe hearing impairment in the 80s after becoming ill. El Deafo is beautifully illustrated and the story is fantastic. Cece shows us what it's like to not only be unable to hear what's being said but understand what's being said. From the difficulties of making friends – especially best friends – to discovering the amazing Phonic Ear, this is a remarkable story about growing up. Cece now has superpowers: El ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a very colorful and cute book. But the story told through this cuteness is not so cute actually! It’s an autobiography of the writer who accidentally loses her hearing ability at the age of four. So everything around her becomes silent! Her life becomes more difficult when she starts school. New place, new people, all are staring at her because of the cords of her hearing aid! I can’t feel her pain of course because I didn’t have to go through all these things!

But she was brave. She turns
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Until she was four, Cece had "normal" hearing. And then a bout of meningitis left her deaf, needing a hearing aid to understand the world around her. In her comic book memoir, Cece writes mainly about the obstacles she faced in making friends in a hearing world.

Cece's writing is perfect for what she's accomplishing. She's definitely writing to an elementary audience, and she's writing on their level without obviously talking down to them. I like that she's very, very clear about what her deafne
Great book. Such a fun memoir to read. This is an honest telling of what it is to be raised hearing impaired. Fun little stories and fun art and the telling is simple and honest. El Deafo jumps off the page. I get why this was considered for the Newberry and got an Honor. I think anyone can enjoy this book and enrich your life. So glad I gave this book a go.
Just as good as everyone raving about it has said.
The world is doing such a good job of pushing this book. Blurbs from Riordan, Palacio, Telgemeier... the list goes on and on. The cover is reminiscent of Smile, the insides are all colorful. Just fantastic, machine. Way to work it.

And for something so deserving!
I grew up closely adjacent to the deaf community. My mom worked as an interpreter, her best friend was deaf, we went to deaf movie night at the community center. Bell is fairly close in age to close friends of our family who traveled si
Bell's memoir focuses on ages 4-14 or so, starting pretty much with the illness which deafened her and ending with her finally feeling accepted by her peers. It is amazing, and you should read it right away. Natasha and I are in complete agreement on this.

And if you haven't already, follow it up by reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier and Stitches by David Small, two more amazing memoirs told through graphic novel format.

Library copy.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who worked here at the library. She had a severe hearing impairment. She used to come back to my desk to ask me questions about library items. One day, I was busy with something so she took her question to my co-worker who was awfully rude to her. After I was finished with what I was doing, I asked the co-worker if he'd been able to help our fellow colleague and he sniped a bit, finishing his rant with, "It's like she doesn't even listen."
I went over to my des
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
Disclaimer: I only read a 26 page preview provided by the publishers but it was so, so good I can't help myself.

El Deafo is one of the most bittersweet stories I've read recently.

After a sudden onset of Meningitis and days in hospital, four year-old Cece loses her hearing. The story follows her as she discovers and copes with this. Ere long, she gets back into her favorite costume- her swimsuit and goes back to enjoying the pleasures of summer. Although her world is unquestionably silent, Cece
Kris Patrick
My initial reaction is that a memoir about an artist's childhood experience with Phonic Ear wouldn't resonate with kids, however I had a similar reaction last summer to Smile, Raina Telgemeier's memoir on childhood orthodontia, and oh boy was I wrong. Students at my school go nuts for that book even though I'm sure the references to the early 90s are lost on them. I have to remember that Phonic Ear and orthodontia represent the feeling of being different regardless of what that looks or sounds l ...more
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I'm an author and an illustrator, and sadly not a jazz pianist. I live in an old church in the hills of Virginia with my husband, author Tom Angleberger. I work right next door in a new-ish barn. I've written and illustrated a bunch of books for kids and was lucky enough to get a Geisel Honor for one of 'em. If you want to know more about my hearing loss or my childhood (or both), check out my fir ...more
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“And being different? That turned out to be the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.” 30 likes
“Oh, why do I even care what other people think?” 10 likes
More quotes…