Monday, January 10, 2005

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn is, of course, a recommendation from Daisy. It's a wonderful story of a fictional island nation off the coast of South Carolina that reveres its founder, the author of the sentence "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." When letters from the sentence start falling from a public monument, the leaders of the island determine that Nollop is sending them a message from beyond the grave that those letters are no longer to be used. The book starts out lighthearted but as the letters continue to drop and people find themselves without the ability to communicate, the social order breaks down. The last half of the book is taken up with the frantic search for another sentence that uses the entire alphabet but in fewer letters, thus proving that the council is wrong about Nollop. I spotted the sentence right away, but that didn't take away from the drama and sense of urgency surrounding Ella and her friends and family as they struggled to keep it together, communicate with one another, and save their island. The writing is very clever and half the fun of the book is watching the linguistic gymnastics the residents of Nollop use as their options dwindle down to their last few letters.

When I described the book to my roommate she excitedly borrowed it from me to use as a writing exercise for her high school students.

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