I read El Deafo by Cece Bell about a month back now, but I thought it would be a perfect fit for Diverse December’s own voices square.
This is Bell’s graphic memoir (aimed towards children) that discusses her childhood experiences, including how she became deaf, and the deaf kindergarten that she went to. The book really picks up as Cece joins a school where she is the only deaf student. She worries about whether she will fit in, and whether the boy she has a crush on will find her phonic ear (a huge hearing aid) off-putting.
One of the most interesting sections was Cece’s reluctance to learn American Sign Language. I’d never considered the idea that she wouldn’t want to. There’s a great section where she talks about how this would set her apart from the other children even more, and that she gets along with lip-reading just fine. (There’s also a really great section where she gets annoyed with classmates who over-enunciate to make lipreading ‘easier’ for her).
The art style wasn’t exactly to my taste, but it is aimed towards children, so that’s understandable. However, I think that its bright colours and panel layout will appeal to kids who might not be so confident when reading.
I’ve never read a book with a deaf main character before, and I will definitely be rectifying that in 2017. I think this was a great place to start!