Throwback Thursday! (Saturday): Ella Minnow Pea

What day is this?

I certainly don’t know.

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Look how beat up it is 😛

Welcome to my first Throwback Thursday Saturday! I randomly laid my hand upon a book on my dresser and it was Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

I’m quite happy about this! I LOVE this book, I’ve read it three times (even though i CLEARLY don’t remember how it starts -_-). I first read this book in  AP English 10 when I was 16 and I finished it before the school day was out the day it was issued to us. . . It’s only 208 pages and such a  fun and exciting read!

The book is told exclusively in letters between residents of a little island off of the East Coast of the United States called Nollop. Specifically following a girl named Ella Minnow Pea and her family and adventures. On Nollop they venerate Mr. Nevin Nollop the creator of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet a minimum amount of times. To the islanders language is sacred, literally. They have vast and intricate vocabularies. They write letters. They are a simple and happy people.

Then tragedy strikes; an accident causes the Council of Nollop to believe Nevin Nollop desires the islanders to cease using the letter Z and they accept no other interpretation of events. They restrict the use of this letter and dole out severe punishments for any who violate this prohibition. Words with this letter can not be written, spoken, or exist in print so names are changed, books are destroyed, personal letters hidden.

New era! Pish-and-pooh! The latest development hasn’t inaugurated new era. It’s only shoved us far deeper into the dungeon of Island Medievalism. W shall be wearing burlap and flour sack tomorrow, and lucubrating by candlelight because even light bulbs seem doomed now to join the official listof technological non-essentials. And now this regulation! I am bezides myself!”

As more and more letters are prohibited language is further restricted and more residents are punished or banished. Nollopians flee to the U.S. and those remaining, Ella Minnow Pea included, must fight for their rights to use language. This book is the most fun and lighthearted allegory for governmental and religious tyranny that I have ever experienced and you need to read it.

As you could imagine a book written entirely of personal letters set in a place where words and language are being restricted could get complicated to write. And it does.   The book begins with long letters with extensive vocabularies but as time passes and letters are taken away the residents of Nollop must find ways to legally communicate and their letters get shorter, more halted, and incorporate what we would call text speak. It is so interesting to read. It is so fun to try to decipher what they are saying (it isn’t difficult I swear) as well as trying to solve the puzzle and save Nollop!

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Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

  • 1- Don’t Read
  • 2- It’s Good
  • 3- Read
  • 4- Highly Recommend
  • 5- Must Read

I really must decide where these ratings actually come from at some point. That being said you must read Ella Minnow Pea. With a theme like fighting against an overreaching government and daring to question an accepted dogma I say this is for literally every person. Mark Dunn did an amazing job with a book, it is an easy and entertaining page turner while maintaining that main point; tyranny = bad freedom = good. I, of course, LOVE books with this theme (1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, etc.) so I am super happy to have this book on my shelf! Get it. Read it. Now.

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I, my dear friends, have a secret; I steal books from school.

Oh, and I don’t live around there anymore so no, that address is no longer connected to me so don’t bother stalking. 

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