Young Hoosier Graphic Novels

The Young Hoosier Book Award is given yearly to one of twenty books nominated for each of the three categories (Picture Books, Intermediate, and Middle Grades) in the state of Indiana. I recently read two popular graphic novels that have been nominated for the Young Hoosier Book Award: El Deafo by Cece Bell and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, which have been popular among the younger patrons of the Aurora Public Library District. Both of these graphic novels are autobiographical, or true stories that happened to the authors. These books are perfect for intermediate readers.

El Deafo follows the story of Cece, who contracts meningitis when she is four and subsequently loses her hearing. She grows up during the 1970’s, before much was really known about Deaf culture, and so her doctors and parents try to help Cece be as “normal” as possible. She is fitted for “behind-the-ear” hearing aids as well as the “Phonic Ear,” which has cords and is attached to a device Cece wears on her chest that amplifies her hearing even more for school. However, Cece is self-conscious about her deafness as well as her Phonic Ear because people treat her and talk to her differently. Throughout the novel, Cece struggles to make and maintain friends who will treat her like a regular girl, often feeling lonely and out of place. To cope with being different and feeling alone, Cece creates an alter-ego superhero who uses her deafness and Phonic Ear as a way to be respected and included by her family and peers. This is a great read for anyone who has ever felt out of place, lonely, or who wanted a friend. You can find this book in the juvenile biography section at the Dillsboro and Aurora branches of the Aurora Public Library District.

Sisters is the companion novel to Smile, chronicling the story of Raina further. Raina, her mother, sister, and brother take a week-long road trip in a van for a family reunion. During the car ride, Raina and her sister, Amara, argue, fight, and dance around something ominously titled “The Incident,” which has something to do with why Raina won’t ride in the front seat of the van. Through a series of flashbacks interspersed throughout the road trip, the reader sees how the relationship between Amara and Raina has grown and changed over the years. Raina and Amara fight as hard as any siblings because they are polar opposites. Neither one has tried to understand the other until the last few pages of the book. This is a wonderful depiction of how sibling relationships change as they mature and age, as well as how those relationships can strain when siblings are trapped in a car together for long stretches of time. You can find this book in the juvenile biography section, as well, at the Aurora Public Library. However, the book can be placed on hold and brought to the Dillsboro Public Library if needed.