Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea

A Novel in Letters

Book - 2001
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Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island's Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl's fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books/Random House, c2001
Description: 205 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780385722438
Branch Call Number: Dunn


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Oct 05, 2020

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn is a silly little story that follows a young girl of the same name living in Nollop, a small island off the coast of South Carolina. The island, named after Nevin Nollop, the author of the phrase containing all letters of the alphabet, “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, is home to the sentence in tile letters spanning the memorial statue of Nollop. However, when the day suddenly comes, the tiles begin to fall off, letter by letter, limiting the communication and letter usage within island inhabitants, and changing the course of discussion as they know it. With sanctions and exiles given to those who use fallen letters, Ella is left remaining on the island, in the search for a new sentence, and the opportunity to save her family and community. Ella Minnow Pea is a novel I would strongly recommend to avid readers. The story is unlike any I have ever read, and as more tiles continue to fall, it is most interesting to see how the author avoids the fallen letters while still writing a captivating story and keeping the tale moving. The book examines concepts of linguistics, story telling, history, family, and love, in all short 208 pages. The book defies rules of spelling and communication, and examines phonetic spelling and more creative ways to interpret words and sentences. Imagine this: the letter “E” is removed from the world? Might it be easy to cope without this letter? Or is the 25 times the letter “E” was used in the past few sentences too challenging to avoid? 5/5 stars for Ella Minnow Pea! @readingmouse of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl who lives in an articulate village, named after Nevin Nollop, who was the apparent creator of the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” The town is known for their broad use of the English language, and I personally think their appreciation of it is admirable. At first the book is amusing - but slow, if I could say - where they begin to use less and less letters. As the book progresses - around ⅔ of the way through - the plot begins to thicken, and the book becomes something incredible to behold. It turns into a comedy towards the end, and I have seriously never read anything so funny. I read the entire book in about a day, and it was well worth it to stay up past midnight reading the last bits of it. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book so hilarious. I’d recommend it to any logophiles looking for a good laugh. 4/5 stars
@aCardboardBox of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Aug 03, 2020

Although filled with quite a formal language, Ella Minnow Pea is captivating and humourous. Following the story of Ella, a girl from the island of Nollop, this story breaks down deifying ideologies and challenges the meaning of hero-worship. A multifaceted read that is widely enjoyed.

May 14, 2020

Loved this very short book. The author has given us the story by letting us read the letters each of the characters are writing and mailing to to one another. Quick read, but very thought provoking. I recommended the book right away to my sisters who live in other cities and two weeks later we held our very first online book club.

Mar 02, 2020

rec on n.warburton's self-isolation list by timtfj

Nov 11, 2018

Interesting idea, but I found the long rambling letters which compose the body of the book to be rather tedious. It was fun seeing the effect of dropping letters from the alphabet. However, if one point of the book was illustrating the destructiveness of the authoritarian Council (the government body), it was sadly subverted by the rambling prose.

SCL_Mallory Jul 05, 2018

This is my new favourite book. It is epistolary as the story is told in various letters being sent back and forth within a family. It tells a very intriguing story about the importance of our alphabet and how drastically our vocabulary could change if we could no longer use specific letters of the alphabet.

Jun 19, 2017

Welcome to the island nation of Nollop, where language and education are paramount and technology is a mere frivolity. We are named after Nevin Nollop, the creator of the revered pangram: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". Prominently located at our town center in Nollopville is an impressive statue of Mr. Nollop with a cenotaph on which the renowned phrase is inscribed...

One day, a tile containing the letter Z falls from the cenotaph, and the High Island Council, believing it a "terrestrial manifestation of Mr. Nollop's wishes", issues an edict banning the use of the 26th letter of the alphabet. The novel continues to chronicle the linguistic and social effects as more letter tiles fall and are subsequently banned from both oral and written use by government edicts.

This epistolary and lipogrammatic novel is a fun and quirky read, because as letters fall from the statue, they're eliminated from the book, making it a little challenging yet still interesting to read!

LPL_MeredithW Apr 15, 2017

A really interesting novel about the fictional nation of Nollop, which starts eliminating the use of certain letters from written and spoken communication - and as the letters drop out of usage in Nollop, they're also cut from the book. Great commentary on totalitarianism + a writing trick that doesn't descend into gimmick = a fun, quick, quirky read.

Mar 06, 2017

Interesting political satire about authoritarianism and the lengths to which people will go to subvert it. This is set on a fictional island where words are very, very valued. The city council forbids the use of letters that fall off of a sign, and communication becomes more difficult as more letters are banned from use, and more arbitrary and capricious rules are imposed on the population. Of course, an underground forms in opposition to the powers that be.

An excellent read for anyone who loves words and intellectual freedom.

KateHillier Oct 20, 2016

I actually came across this book on tumblr on a post where people were talking about what would happen if certain letters just stopped existing. I was surprised to find that this concept had already been done and I had to check it out.

It's a neat concept. A small island bans letters as they fall off a statue commemorating the man who thought up a sentence that uses every letter in the english language at least once - the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The punishment for using any banned letters go from warning, to public flogging or time in the stocks, or banishment.

It's interesting to see how inventive people get with avoiding words with offending letters in them, and there is a bit of personal intrigue as people are punished and outside forces try to intervene but it was a little rough to read. Easy, it's all letters,but just not super engaging beyond the writing experiment

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Mar 17, 2019

rabios thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Mar 28, 2012

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Mar 22, 2011

HereComeTheDrums99 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over


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Nov 29, 2010

"Instead of the calendrical terms Monday. Tuesday and so forth, we cheerfully offer the following surrogates. Use them freely and often, for their use honors us all.
For Sunday, please use Sunshine.
For Monday. pleasy use Monty.
For Tuesday, please use Toes.
For Wednesday, please use Wetty.
For Thursday, please use Thurby.
For Friday, please use Fribs.
For Saturday, please use Satto-gatto."


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