Monday, July 12, 2010

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea lives on Nollop, an island off the coast of South Carolina. It was named after the esteemed Nevin Nollop, a man who had created a thirty-five letter sentence using all of the letters of the alphabet, called a pangram. A statue of Mr. Nollop was built, and above it, thirty-five tiles portrayed the wonderful sentence that started it all: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

Then one day the first tile falls, and while most of the citizens of Nollop don't realize it, the statue has been there for a long time, and there's a good chance it's deteriorating. Instead the island citizens believe it is a sign from Nollop beyond the grave. As each tile falls a new letter is banned from the alphabet. The only thing that can save them is a new pangram with thiry-two letters or less. In the face of almost certain banishment, Ella and her friends work their hardest to try to deliver their small island from complete destruction by loss of letters.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Mark Dunn is imaginitive and I was very inspired by his incredible use of words. The idea alone, however, was enough to reel me in. Because of my love for words, I can't imagine not being able to use...let's say...the letter "M". My mom's name starts with "M". My dad's name has an "M" in it. My last name, my sister's name, not to mention Monday, or Mugs, or March, May, or November. How would - how could we live like that?

Mark Dunn gives the perfect picture of life without literature, words, and talking. Of abbreviations and offenses against Nevin Nollop. Of underground word organizations and of a sentence puzzle that was the only hope for survival for the small island of Nollop and its literate citizens.

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