One day, I realized that I would never be able to read all the books. Why I hadn’t realized this sooner I’m not sure, but I do know that the thought upset me quite significantly. It’s a quite melancholy thought actually. In 2014, I thus decided to be more careful about the books I selected, to read higher quality writing. In doing so, I became a literary snob. I didn’t set out with this result in mind, but once you stuff your head with high quality writing you can tell poor writing from pure genius almost instantaneously. 167 books later, I’m a quite critical reader and while I still enjoy summertime fluff, such as the book I finished yesterday- Before the Fall, it’s becoming increasingly rare for me to give a book five stars on Goodreads.
Today I finally finished a book worthy of five stars! This is only my fourth five star review in 2016 and it goes to… EL DEAFO by Cece Bell!!! I didn’t know much about this book going into it other than that it was a middle grade graphic novel and that it was funny. In fact, a book talk about it by a Champaign Public Library librarian describing a bathroom scene actually caused one of my 4th graders to laugh so hard he had an asthma attack which resulted in him being sent home after a nebulizer treatment did little to help the situation… Yes, the book was that funny!
I was impressed with the artwork; you can visually see the main character Cece lose her hearing after a bout of meningitis as the speech bubbles fade and finally are empty. My grandma also lost her hearing after an illness as a child so I have a strong personal connection to this story causing me to love it even more. Cece gets a hearing aide, but the author teaches readers a great deal about life with hearing aides. She illustrates how Cece can hear, but that it sounds like gibberish regardless of volume. In one scene, Cece thinks a child tells her that her grandma likes pie when actually she has said her grandma might die. It’s through responding incorrectly that she determines what the child actually told her. The author also takes time to show social difficulties experienced by being a deaf kid and not being understood. The fact that all the characters are rabbits, highlights how different Cece felt with her hearing aide because it’s much more visible if your ears are above your head. The book also illustrates the many ways that the hearing can communicate with deaf/hard of hearing people in ways that are hurtful. This would be great bibliotherapy for deaf kids and those who are friends with someone who is deaf. I also think it’s a great way for kids to become more aware of the world around them and different cultures, even if they don’t personally know anyone who is deaf. Finally, this book shows both sides of the signing vs. reading lips debate and really helps illustrates the pros/cons.
It was only after finishing this book that I realized the author’s name was Cece and that this graphic novel was autobiographical. My love for this book increased astronomically when I found this out. I can’t begin to imagine the impact Cece Bell has had on so many individuals!
Now to find my next great read ❤