After an illness severely damages her hearing, four year old CeCe must wear hearing aids and learn to read lips. As she goes through elementary school, she sometimes struggles to fit in with her classmates, some of whom treat her differently because of her disability. She constantly wonders what people are thinking about her and feels left out in situations where she can’t understand what others are saying or listening to. But she also knows that her hearing aids let her do some things that the other kids can’t, and someday her classmates will need El Deafo to save the day.
This graphic novel is sure to resonate with all middle grade readers, who will relate to CeCe’s struggles to find true friendship and fit in with her peers. Reader’s with disabilities may find CeCe’s story particularly easy to relate to, while typically-abled readers will get a glimpse into the frustrations of being treated differently and set apart (for example, when CeCe’s friend refers to her as her “deaf friend” rather than just her friend). This novel will both introduce readers to what it is really like to be deaf and remove some misconceptions and other barriers that may have made hearing children hesitant to befriend a deaf classmate. Engaging, educational, and a great story–I highly recommend it!