Bricks and Books Club: El Deafo

We read El Deafo by Cece Bell for our last Bricks and Books Club meeting of the year! Being Hard of Hearing myself, this graphic novel is near and dear to my heart. I was so excited to share it with this group!

bbc el deafo

Book Blurb:

Starting at a new school is scary, especially with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom but anywhere her teacher is in the school — in the hallway . . . in the teacher’s lounge . . . in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most ⁠— a true friend?

Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone…

Icebreaker: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

Most of the kids wanted superpowers that could help them get out of school (e.g. invisibility, mind control, shapeshifting, weather control). Flying was also quite popular. As for me, I chose teleportation…. think of all the gas and money and time you could save!

Discussion Questions:

  • Recall: Who is El Deafo? What is the Phonic Ear?
  • Analyze: Growing up, Cece had many different friendships – Lauren, Ginny, Martha, Mike. Who do you think was her truest friend? Why? Try to persuade someone who picked a different friend!
  • Recall: What was most important to Cece in a friend?
  • Connect: What qualities do you value most in a friend? Find someone with similar values!
  • Analyze: In the Superpowered Edition, the author says she had a hard time getting page 45 just right. Cece says, “I was haunted by this page.” Why do you think page 45 was so hard to figure out?
  • Reflect: Pick one word to describe how this graphic novel made you feel.

This was one of the most robust discussions we’ve ever had. The kids really connected to Cece’s story and had LOTS to say. Our sticky notes sure came in handy!

The group was almost evenly split between Martha and Mike:

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Sticky Note: Tie between Martha and Mike (Mike is also drawn with a speech bubble that says, “It’s cool!”)

Some common themes emerged when comparing the qualities we most desire from a friendship: listening, humor, kindness.

Although sharing was optional for the last question, everyone wanted to share how this graphic novel made them feel: amused, empathetic, happy, seen, understood, seen… and my favorite response: STUFF!

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Building Challenge: Build a parachute for your minifigure superhero!

bbc el deafo science

Science Slide: Depicts the forces of air resistance and gravitational pull on a parachute.

We used a timer to compete for the slowest descent and adjusted our designs several times. The kids always get so excited when I bring out the ladder, even though they’re not allowed to climb it themselves!

Here are some of our final parachutes:

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Display Case: Two minifigure superheroes called Harry Johnson and the Glider pictured with their parachutes. Harry Johnson rests in a cupcake liner with a torn tissue paper parachute. The Glider is attached directly to their single tissue paper parachute via yarn.

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Display Case: A minifigure superhero named Mega Croc poses with its parachute. This parachute is significantly larger than the others and is composed of several sheets of tissue paper. Mega Croc is attached directly to the parachute via elastic string.


To read more about getting started with a Bricks and Books Club, read this post.

Please note that LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this content.

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