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Bite-Sized Book Reviews: EL DEAFO and ONE CRAZY SUMMER for raising compassionate kids

BooksKristina PinoComment

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is a somewhat autobiographical graphic memoir starring a cast of bunnies telling the story of a childhood dealing with deafness. Some of the events of the story come from Bell's own memories, others are more of a generalization of the sort of experiences children with hearing difficulties might have. It has its funny and sad parts, but most importantly, it tells a story at a young reader's level without talking down to them. Bell's character's thoughts: her frustrations communicating with people as well as her own delightful imagination of having super powers, are generally expressed through thought balloons. I'm including this in my...collection? Of books for raising kind and compassionate kids because it shows readers what sort of struggles come with some kinds of disabilities. Folks who read Wonder might find some similarities between Cece's equipment and experiences and Auggie's.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine serves as the sensible, big sisterly voice to the story of her and her siblings' journey to California to meet their mother and spend a summer with her. Vonetta and Fern have big, vividly expressed and unforgettable personalities, just as any mischievous pair of little sisters do off the page. The three girls travel to Oakland and are not greeted with hugs and kisses, but with stern warnings to stay out of her mother's way. With nowhere to go but the neighborhood's community center, the girls join the local Black Panthers, who teach them about activism and advocacy. I found myself wanting for more by the end of the story, which is the kind of joyful ending readers cheer for (and perhaps shed a little tear, for us sensitive types). Great for mid-4th grade and above, this novel brings an important point in history to life through three sassy, funny, happy girls.