Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn


16200Ella 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 pangram,* “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.

*pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet


A clever book about the power of language that made me laugh out loud. While going through a feat of linguistic gymnastics it also touches on liberty, censorship, and what it means to fight the good fight.

I was blown away by the work and level of craft that went into this novel. After things get phonetic things got bogged down for a while, but it didn’t stop me from finishing the book in a couple of hours.

I only highlighted one quote, but I love it. Upon the imminent banning of the letter Q:

Before retiring, though, I shall turn to my dear husband and say, “Today we queried, questioned, and inquired. Promise me that come tomorrow, we will not stop asking why.”