2015 Newbery Honor Book
I remember seeing this book listed as possible Newbery winners for 2015 and immediately liking the cover. It was the first book I was eager to read when the list came out. It is also the first ever graphic novel to be honored by the Newbery committee. I know that a lot of people (especially educators, reading teachers in particular) often look down at graphic novels because they "lack content." This book is definitely not lacking in content.
El Deafo is about a girl who loses her hearing at an early age. She originally attends a program for hearing impaired students and learns to lip read but when her parents move to a smaller town, she has to attend school with all the regular kids. She gets a giant hearing aid that she wears (called "The Phonic Ear") and the rest of the book is about her trying to make friends and be normal in a world the relies on being able to hear.
I love the tone of this book. It is semi-autobiographical and Cece is so snarky. Cece is very shy but she leads a rich fantasy life (in which she is a superhero, hence the cover) which shows us her true snarky side. It is a book about dealing with disability, about trying to fit in, and about friendship. I also love how she uses rabbits and their overly large ears in a book about hearing loss (I caught the correlation right away and it was confirmed in a comment by Bell on Goodreads, so then I felt really smart).
I am hoping to see more of Cece Bell on the Newbery list. She has already received awards for her other children's books, most notably a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor for Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover (my daughters love that book and we can't wait for the upcoming sequel). She also has another children's book series, Sock Monkey (which I have only read one book because that's all my library system has). I have interacted with her several times on social media and she seems to be a genuinely nice person too.