Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday Shout-Out: El Deafo (Bell/Lasky)

I have so many students who love graphic novels, but for some reason, El Deafo has stood out big-time with my 7th and 8th grade girls. I read it one day during lunch (it's short and easy to read), and I could tell almost immediately that El Deafo has a lot of heart. There were a couple of parts that I had a little tear in my eye because it was so sad and sweet. I can see why it is constantly checked out.

AUTHOR: Cece Bell
COLORIST: David Lasky
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Harry N. Abrams
ISBN: 9781419710209
PAGES: 248
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: graphic novel,memoir
GIVE IT TO: fans of Raina Telgemeier, Wonder

SUMMARY: Based on the author's own experiences as a young, hearing-impaired girl attending public school for the first time.


Several girls have asked me what else we have that is similar to El Deafo. I then direct them to Smile, Sisters, and Drama by Raina Telgemeier. But I really need to find more like this! I've also seen groups of friends checking it out (we have 5 copies because it is a Panda Award book for 2015-16) to read together. How cute is that?

When I look up El Deafo on Goodreads, I get recommendations for the following similar books:

--Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
--Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm (sidenote: Matthew Holm, illustrator, is visiting our school in November!!!!)
--The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
--Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier
--Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Donner Party by Nathan Hale
--Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper

So once again, I'm going to be doing some shopping for books this week!


  • El Deafo features human-rabbits as characters. Yep! Cece and her parents, friends, and teachers are all human-ish, but they all have rabbit ears. On Goodreads, the author says that the rabbit ears are a "perfect visual metaphor" for a rabbit-girl whose ears don't work like all the other rabbit-kids.
  • Author Cece Bell is also hearing impaired, and the main character Cece is based on her own childhood. 
  • Cece Bell is married to Tom Angleberger, the author of the ever-popular Origami Yoda series
  • Cece Bell and I both grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, and we both attended Roanoke County Schools around the same time. (okay, you probably don't care about that, but it's very cool for me!)
  • El Deafo would be a great choice for ELLs and hearing-impaired students. It would also be fun to pair with Palacio's Wonder.


  • I am planning to booktalk this book with a 6th grade ELL class on Monday. It will be part of a booktalk focusing on graphic novels that are easy, non-intimidating English reads. Other books in the session include: Raina Telgemeier graphic novels, Robot Dreams, Boxers & Saints, Big Nate, Dear Dumb Diary, Origami Yoda, Squish, Babymouse, Tom Gates, David Walliams books, Timmy Failure, and James Patterson's Middle School series. I have posted the booktalk here (don't worry, it's free).
  • When I booktalk, I like to put the books on the tables and project the cover image on the TV in a PowerPoint presentation. This way, the students can touch the books and flip through them while I talk about them. Students often start looking at the books as they come in, before I start the booktalk, which helps them have a little prior knowledge. When a book on their table comes up in the presentation, I pick it up from the table and if appropriate, show images or read a short passage I've preselected. This keeps me moving around the room, which helps keep the students riveted to my every word. Seriously, they are!
  • Ask students why they think the author chose to represent the characters as rabbits. I'm betting many of them will pick up on the ear-metaphor mentioned above right away.


My booktalk for ELL that includes El Deafo and 16 other graphic novels for middle school. This link takes you to the free download (PowerPoint) on my TPT Store.

Cece Bell's Website

David Lasky's website (great for us artsy-fartsy types!)

Homage to David Lasky, the colorist (I so want that job!!!)

El Deafo teaching guide from Abrams Publishing

El Deafo on

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