[middle-grade] reviews: el deafo & rhyme schemer

25 November 2014

 Title: El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 2nd 2014
Blurb: Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for. -goodreads
Vibrant. Colourful. Passionate. Those are the three words I would use to describe El Deafo. Because while my ARC is in black and white, the comic strips every shade of grey and tone; I am not talking about the drawings. Yes, in colour there is a whole new area of impact to lend itself to vivifying your reading experience. But even with empty speech bubbles Cece's desire to fit in and cope with her journey alongside others is apparent, even with her hearing aid turned off, her story is loud, clear and as honest as it can be. Even stuck in her own circle of solitude does Cece's yearning to be free of her problems emanate outwards and around and towards us.And I admire her for it. And I cherish her little cartoon image of rabbit ears and triangle nose; for it has molded itself into the space around me: my companion El Deafo is now always on hand to support me. Surely if a tiny child can brave deafness, loneliness, helplessness, then I can challenge my difficulties with superhuman strength?
El Deafo is your little pocket of bravery and struggle for happiness and normalcy disguised in rich cartoons and heartwarming conclusions. Smile [Raina Telgemeier] used to be my one favourite visual novel to re-read over and over. Now I have two.
Title: Rhyme Schemer
Author: K.A Holt
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Blurb: Kevin has a bad attitude. He's the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way--and he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? Rhyme Schemer is a touching and hilarious middle-grade novel in verse about one seventh grader's journey from bully-er to bully-ee, as he learns about friendship, family, and the influence that words can have on people's lives. - goodreads
On a sticky note stuck to the cover:
[re-read and mark all my favourite parts].
you read a book so
q u i c k l y
the words are blurs in your
peripheral vision,
flying by on paper wings
you still absorb them all
Because that's the kind of book it is:
sticky page magnet chapters
pinning to your brain with
big balls of bright blue-tack.
Rhyme Schemer is that book.

One sitting,
that's how long it took to
But the poems are imprinted
in my mind, scrolling
over my eyes
churning through my thoughts.
And my hands itch
to rip paper from spine
with a sshh of
Who knew page poems could feel so

Rhyme Schemer was only my third venture into novels written in verse but it definitely won't be my last. I absolutely loved the re-prints of some of Kevin's work, and I thought it added a really interesting layer to the story that makes it that bit more unique and arresting.Filled with simple yet emotive words Kevin endears himself to readers with his honest poetry and arresting *scheming*. All I wanted to do while reading was go and rip out a page of a book to create my own page poetry. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. *handcuffs wrists*. [I probably will though, I just need to plan a trip to the charity shop.]


  1. Fabulous reviews, Hawwa! I actually haven't read any books in verse (shocking, I know!) but I think I definitely will. These both sound great! :)

  2. They both sound like they tell important messages. I'm really drawn to El Deafo. It strikes me as a book I would keep forever and reread parts when I feel like. Is it a book for all ages?
    Lovely reviews, Hawwa.
    Marina ^_^

    1. *Marian
      ....*ahem*... *awkward moment when you spell your name wrong*


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