Tag Archives: graphic novels

Book Review: El Deafo

el-deafoStraying a bit from highlighting nominations to the NH Isinglass Teen Read Award list to mention El Deafo, written and illustrated by Cece Bell, that is nominated for the NH Great Stone Face Award for 4th through 6th graders and a recent winner of a Newbery Honor Award.

El Deafo is a graphic novel loosely based on Cece Bell’s own childhood growing up hearing impaired after a bout of meningitis left her severely to profoundly deaf at the age of 4.  Cece’s characters are all drawn as rabbits, because, as she says, rabbits are known for their ears, and when she was growing up, she felt like the only rabbit whose ears didn’t work.  Cece gives herself the superhero name “El Deafo” after she begins using a Phonic Ear device to better hear the teachers in school…and she discovers she can still hear the teachers if they’re not in the same room…provided they’re still wearing their piece of the Phonic Ear device.  

This is a truly wonderful, well-written story, with compelling characters.  Cece’s friends initially struggle with understanding her need to use the hearing device and accepting her as she is.  Cece wants to be treated like anyone else but the Phonic Ear distinguishes her as different.  The artwork is charming and the graphic format enhances the story beautifully. My 8 year old grabbed this book from my reading pile when she saw it was a graphic novel and devoured it…and we were both delighted when we found it at a Scholastic Book Fair soon afterward and snapped it up.  It’s a wonderful example of why telling our own stories are so valuable – we have deep truths that we can share that really do resonate with others even though the details of our story are what make us unique.

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A Comic Dissertation

Jsmall_03_09_irrationalTrue fact: Even though I lived through its writing, I have never read my husband’s dissertation. I probably never will. I don’t say that arrogantly; I know I’m not the intended academic audience, so unless he pares it down for popular publication, it will remain on the shelf.

This guy, though, this guy, Nick Sousanis (Columbia University Teacher’s College, 2014), I’d love to get my hands on his dissertation. Titled “Unflattening: A Visual-Verbal Inquiry Into Learning in Many Dimensions,” it’s written and illustrated in graphic novel form. Believed to be the first dissertation of its kind, the project caught the attention of The Chronicle of Higher Education, which notes that the dissertation “…explores how comics’ interwoven el­ements open up new ave­nues for creating and learning that aren’t possible through writing alone. Mr. Sousanis calls the work a series of “philosophical essays” that employ images and metaphors. He uses a text outline as a scaffold to flesh out sketches on large sheets of paper, and finishes the final drawings on a computer.”  You can read the full article here, find out more about Dr. Sousanis here and order a copy of “Unflattening” from Harvard University Press here.

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