Newbery Verdict: El Deafo

El Deafo // by Cece Bell (2014)

el-deafoNewbery Honor Book (2015)
Genre: MG, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 Stars

Basic Plot: Cece loses most of her hearing at a young age due to illness… which means that now she needs to wear a special box to help her hear. The box makes her “different”. Who wants to be different? But as she grows up, she realizes that she has “superpowers” that other people don’t have. Introducing: El Deafo!


Cece the rabbit captured my heart! I loved her. And I absolutely loved the fact that the characters in this book were rabbits! (Note: This book is based on the author’s real-life experiences.)

I found it fascinating to see the POV of this young girl who comes to terms with something that makes her so different from the other children in her school and neighborhood. How does she navigate friendships? And then there were all the little tricks she learned to cope with not being able to hear, like reading lips, etc. The book is set in the 1970s, and I thought it captured the flavour of the 1970s (and early 80s?) very nicely.

And can I just say that I love that they’re rabbits! (Yes, I do realize that I’ve told you this before. 🙂 )


Yes! I’m so glad this book got a Newbery Honor award. I can’t compare it to the winner that year (The Crossover by Kwame Alexander) as I haven’t read that one.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

16 thoughts on “Newbery Verdict: El Deafo

  1. Yes! I read this before it won the award! (I used to work in a bookstore.) I also read The Crossover and it definitely deserved to win, but El Deafo has a special place in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish this book had been available when my daughter was young and struggled with having to wear an “FM system” strapped to her chest in elementary school. She was hearing impaired, not deaf. Kids can be cruel, even the audiologist came to her classroom to explain the system and answer their questions. Fortunately, there was another boy who wore a unit too. But, it was hard! She would have enjoyed thinking of the super powers she developed — reading people’s expression and reading lips. This book is so deserving of a Newbery Honor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also found a personal connection to this book. My dad wears two hearing aids, so I found it interesting in order to understand a little more about him. (He went through his entire childhood before getting hearing aids! It was a college professor who noticed and got him tested!)

      Good to hear that your daughter had another person in class. But still, I can imagine how hard it would have been.


    • I do enjoy reading “older” books, Not that El Deafo is old! But I have noticed that some readers within the book community only focus on new releases. (Libraries, too! As if new books are the only good books.)


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