A Book Review! And more award winning middle grade books.

Hi Readers!


I got my hands on a fantastic book this weekend:


El DeafoEl Deafo by Cece Bell. Published by Amulet books in September 2014.

Cece Bell’s part memoir, part fiction is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Set in the 1970’s, we follow Cece (short for Cecelia) depicted in a graphic novel as an awkward bunny. Strange, but so much awesome. After a bout of meningitis at the age of 4, Cece loses her hearing. She stumbles through elementary school, trying her best to fit into the hearing world. Never short of witty humor (the Helen Keller reference left me in stitches), Bell conveys her perspective smartly and with style.

She ties the book up nicely with an informational segment about deafness. From my classes at the University of Maine, I’m proud to say this part was not completely foreign to me. There are two kinds of “deaf” – your veteran grandfather who lost his hearing in the trenches would be considered deaf. But someone who uses sign language and is part of the culture is considered Deaf; with a capital D. “Wait, there’s a Deaf culture?” Yes, of course there is – you didn’t hear about it?

Not only is this book a great choice for parents (or any adult –offspring not required for book enjoyment), but also for middle readers. Since, technically, that’s whom the audience is intended. While browsing reviews, I came upon this gem:

I really enjoyed this book because it changed the way I look at life. I now understand the hardships that people with disabilities face. Everyone should read this to revisit the concept of respect. Parker, 6th grader in Green, Ohio.

Wow. If only we could all be so open minded and empathetic. Way to go, Parker – I hope others follow your lead, and your heart.


4.5/5 Bookmarks **


** Because stars are ubiquitous.



So, looking for other amazing graphic novels for kids? Graphic novels are perfect for reluctant readers. A traditional book can be intimidating for some. Graphic novels are a smart way to bridge the gap between storybooks and chapter books. I sometimes hear from parents: “but that doesn’t count as reading. It’s all pictures”. Well, sure it does. There are words in a logical and [hopefully] intelligent sequence, and the pictures are in comic-strip style to enhance the text. Rather, think of them as “illustrated novels”.

There are many styles, so let’s explore some:


dust bowlThe Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown. Published in October 2013 by HMH Books

This is a stand-alone graphic novel about the Dust Bowl – the period of severe drought in the plains states in the 1930’s. Despite being an illustrated piece, Brown’s book is considered to be nonfiction (all informational, research-based text).




boneThe Bones Series by Jeff Smith. Published in February 2005 by Scholastic, Inc.

Graphic novels are commonly a collection of comic books (like the slim paper editions that Sheldon collects in the “Big Bang Theory”).

The Bone series is such an example. Smith developed an iconic group of humorous fantasy characters during Bone’s 13 years of creation.



smileSmile by Raina Telgemeier. Published in February 2010 by GRAPHIX

On a similar plane as Cece Bell’s “middle school awkward” theme, Telgemeier tackles the strangeness of braces. And middle school. And boys. A charming tale (and also part memoir), Telgemeier’s work is sure to make you, well… smile!




Have any great graphic novels that your family has enjoyed? Leave a comment and let me know!






Sarah Giles

About Sarah Giles

I'm a mother of two, living in the outskirts of Hampden, Maine. I'm passionate about books, and living a family-focused life. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy as a teen - a neurological sleep disorder that keeps me awake at night, and tired throughout the day. I've comfortably coupled my disorder with my love of books. Who doesn't love books and napping together?