Review: El Deafo Proves Differences Are Superpowers

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s El Deafo – a superhero who can hear her teachers everywhere they go (even the bathroom!) and can silence the world with a click of a button. This award-winning graphic novel autobiography by Cece Bell is a unique story about how our differences can be superpowers.

Imagine if you were a young kid, wild and carefree. Suddenly you get sick, and when you come out of the hospital, something is different. You can’t hear your siblings arguing anymore, or the hum of the radio. Now there is silence. You can’t even hear yourself. This is what happened when Cece Bell was a kid, and she grew up with hearing aids (back then they looked like earplugs) and a bulge in her overalls where a box that would help her hear would sit.

Cece starts her education in a school just for kids like her, but when she begins first grade at a new school, she is the only person there who is Deaf. That’s when she notices stares and questions about her hearing from her classmates, which envelopes an imaginary bubble of loneliness around her no one can pop.

So, Cece tries to focus on the positive. During class she has to give her teacher a microphone that connects to her hearing aids, so it feels like her teacher is talking right into her ear. Unfortunately, this means wherever the teacher goes, Cece can hear her loud and clear. When she’s in meetings…in the bathroom…all around the school! She also can antagonize people by taking her hearing aids out because they make a loud noise when not inside Cece’s ears. Soon, Cece knows these powers mean she must be a superhero in disguise. She decides to give herself a name – El Deafo – but something is missing. What Cece needs is a sidekick with powers that outrule them all: being a true friend.

What I loved about the book was that it was so compelling, the minute I picked it up I was inside Cece’s world. The main character was also so lively and real, I was in love with her personality and really cared about Cece. I cheered along when she found a friend, and (seriously) yelled at the book when someone was being insensitive to her.

Something interesting in the book is that all of the characters are portrayed as rabbits. They all look like normal people, the only thing that sticks out is everyone has rabbit ears. I wonder why the author chose to do this.

I recommend this book to readers ages eight through 12. I got this from my middle school library, but the reading level is probably geared towards younger kids. I am currently reading it to my third grade brother!

This book is so good, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve reread it. Four out of four roses!

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