Laurie: A Picture Book About Hearing Loss

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Laurie by Elfi Nijssen & Eline van Lindenhuizen

Originally published in Belgium and Holland, this tremendously sweet book takes a straight-forward approach to the story of Laurie, a girl with hearing loss.  Laurie has trouble hearing other children, so she usually plays alone.  The others tease her about being deaf and refuse to play with a girl who can’t understand them.  Laurie’s dog doesn’t mind that she’s different from the others.  Finally one day, Laurie and her mother go to the ear doctor.  He discovers she needs hearing aids, or “hearing computers” as Laurie calls them.  Now Laurie can hear cars coming, plays happily with others, and pays better attention in class.  Sometimes though, she still likes the quiet and turns her hearing aids off just to return to the silence. 

Nijssen’s writes as an author who has experienced hearing loss herself.  This makes the emotions and struggle of Laurie very real.  The book doesn’t shy away from conflicted feelings and one of the nicest parts is when Laurie decides to turn her hearing aids off or down once in a while.  It makes for a lovely moment that shows that being different was not the problem, being misunderstood was.

Lindenhuizen’s art is simple and friendly, depicting Laurie separated from the other children at first and later connected with others.  She uses space on the pages very successfully, emphasizing the spirit of the text visually.

A great pick for units on differences and diversity, this book is friendly and straight forward.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Zita the Spacegirl: A Girl-Powered Graphic Novel

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Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

This is a great graphic novel for elementary readers who will enjoy the action and the science fiction setting.  Zita and her friend Joseph see a meteoroid fall to earth.  When Zita looks closely, she sees that there is something embedded in the meteoroid.  It looks like a red button and despite her friend’s protests, she presses it.  Immediately, a rift opens and sucks Joseph through it.  After some moments of panic, Zita presses the button again and heads through the rift to rescue her friend.  On the other side of the rift, Joseph is being dragged away by a strange multi-armed alien who flies off with him in a space ship.  Now Zita is left alone in a strange world filled with amazing creatures.  Unfortunately, it’s a world about to be destroyed by a giant asteroid.   How is Zita going to be able to save her friend before the planet is demolished?

Hatke is a great storyteller.  Zita is a friendly, determined and strong girl character, who remains solidly the heroine of her story.  Through his friendly illustrations Hatke has created a world that makes one feel at home despite its strangeness.  The adventure here is thrilling, dangerous and great fun.  As Zita adventures through the world, readers will enjoy the humor of different characters.  Hatke embraces nuanced characters as well, which is a treat in a graphic novel for children.

The illustrations here have an anime appeal to them.  Young fans of Pokemon will feel right at home with the variety of creatures that Zita meets. 

This is one of those great graphic novels that belongs in every library collection.  Sure to check out and be very popular, just face this one out and watch it check out of the library.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

To get a sense of the illustrations, you can view the video below:

Zita the Spacegirl Trailer

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

Also reviewed by:

The Literate Mother

Little Lamb Books

Perpetual Learner