Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
by Mark Dunn
New York : Anchor Books, 2002
Ella Minnow Pea is a young girl living on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Residents of the lovely island revere Neville Nollop, the author of the famous pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." The residents of Nollop enjoy writing letters to communicate as they don't have phones or e-mails like their mainland counterparts. They enjoy a more simple life as their "patron saint" did. When the island's large statue of the man and his lengthy sentence begins to shed its letters life becomes not so pleasant for young Ella and her neighbors. The Head Council decides that Neville is speaking to them from the grave and telling them they should no longer use those letters that fall. Severe punishments are given those that fail to excise the letters from their verbal and written communication. Eventually some of the islands residents come up with a plan to stop the Head Council and their ridiculous interpretation of the statue's deterioration.
Yes, this is an odd little novel, especially towards the end where so many letters no longer exist. Yet is was a great way to learn about language and alternate vocabulary as the citizens tried to think of other ways to say what they wanted to say. An entertaining read and very clever.