What an ugly cover for such a delightful little book. Amirite?
Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel (the style of which reminded me a lot of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) about a girl named Ella and her mission to save the island she calls home. She lives on the (fictional, don’t worry) island of Nollop, named after Nevin Nollop, the creator of the famous phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” The phrase is even at the bottom of the Nollop statue, and the Island Council starts banning each letter as they start to fall off of it, interpreting it as a message from Nollop that those letters are no longer to be used. As the letters are banned in the story they also disappear from the novel, resulting in an unusual but wonderful story of Ella’s fight against totalitarianism.
What a fun, original, interesting book! Not only is it a celebration of all of the letters in the English language, but it brings such interesting topics up in a brilliant, satirical way. I’m really surprised that the quote of praise on the front cover is from The Christian Science Monitor, because it seems to me that Dunn was poking fun at religion a bit. Not at religion itself maybe, but at the people who take their religion SO seriously that they push it to ridiculous extremes, and that result in government passing absurd laws. He definitely as an anti-totalitarian message in there, as well as a pro-free speech message. But messages aside, this is just a great book for book lovers! The island of Nollop is full of people who love language, and it hits them extra hard when each letter is banned. And yet, such a drastic rule coming from your government is hard to fight, especially when you risk banishment by protesting it, and it takes characters of a special kind of courage to fight for their letters. It kind of makes you appreciate each letter that we have, even the lesser-used ones like Z. Not having each of our 26 letters is unthinkable! But that’s what makes this book so fun and fascinating to read!
Anyways, I thought this was fantastic. Such a great concept and beautifully executed, and I read it in pretty much one day. I mean, it’s only 200 pages, so you should definitely give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll be wonderfully surprised by how zany, exotic, and quirky it can be!
Ahh, even though I’m psyched about this book, I admit to hating myself just a little bit for that last sentence. But still!
Sarah Says: 5 stars