MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
by Mark Dunn
ISBN: 9780385722438
Publisher's Synopsis:
Ella 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.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
MrsK's Review:

As a book lover, I adore books about books... books about classic literary characters... books with amazing word play. Could this be some type of a literary left-over from all those days typing the above pangram while our teacher played N. Rimsky Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee?

With a series of letters, two young ladies (cousins) begin a journey of desperation for all literary purposes. Ella is still on the island of Nollopton. She will be the voice of reason, updates, and humorous re-tellings about her village, the people, the High Island Council, and of course what happens as the letters begin dropping from the top of the cenotaph in the town center.  Tassie and her mother has been away on a "stateside" sojourn. Their young adult voices will bring insight into the insanity in which the HIC will begin wielding power over the town.

Are you wondering what is going on... well it is rather comical at first. I mean, consider what you would be doing when an alphabet letter becomes "un-glued" and falls to its death at the heart of the town's city center. You see, once upon a time a very prestigious gentleman, the esteemed Neville Nollop, became a literary "giant" when he penned the famous pangram:  The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Although there was very little recognition within the states, the village erected a statue and placed tiles for the pangram upon the statue. On July 17, the "Z" fell. The council retreated behind close doors to deliberate what the village should do.

With complete control over the villagers, the council declares that no one could ever use the "Z" again. Yep, no more words in which the "Z" is written could ever be viewed, spoken, written, sung, or repeated. Imagine what that means for teachers, or the public library, songs, store items, and personal names. There would of course be one warning with three succeeding penalties if one was not carefully guarding their tongues or refusing to remove any items in which the offensive "Z" might appear. As people began adjusting to this new mandate, the bees began creating quite the havoc around town and in particular at the farms.

"With the prohibition, the reading of all books containing the unfortunate letter
will have to be outlawed..."

Seriously, what would we do? I stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder with Tassie: "I am bezide myself!" Consider the ramifications of such a mandate. The confiscation of any books (including text books), the destruction of personal records or letters, let alone the widespread fear that you could slip and speak the prohibited letter... which could send you on the way to banishment from Nollop.

Within a few weeks the "Q" made its departure. By now everyone is stricken with fear of punishments. Turning your neighbors, family members, and teachers in due to an inability to guard one's mouth is becoming a reality. Some are leaving the island and not by choice. Have you considered what becomes of their personal items or their land? Why would any town agree to these mandates?

"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!"
"The *uick brown fox *umps over the la*y dog."

The next letter to *epart causes the *ays of the week to be change*. Consi*er the extensive energy one woul* nee* to put into action in or*er to communicate. I *o believe that *uct taping one's mount coul* prove beneficial. What will they *o without the "E?"

Nollopianians must prepare for the moment in which language ceases to exist!

Please *on't wait too long... The *elightful word play is just too scrumptious to miss...
Amazing read... joyously devoured... quick fun-filled word play!
Added to my shelf and shared with the Booked to Dine Book Club.

 "This exceptional, zany book will quickly make you laugh."
Dallas Morning Herald
Meet the Author:
Mark Dunn  Mark Dunn is the author of several books and more than thirty full-length plays, a dozen of which have been published in acting edition.

Mark has received over 200 productions of his work for the stage throughout the world, with translations of his plays into French, Italian, Dutch and Hungarian. His play North Fork (later retitled Cabin Fever: A Texas Tragicomedy when it was picked up for publication by Samuel French) premiered at the New Jersey Repertory Company (NJRC) in 1999 and has since gone on to receive numerous productions throughout the U.S.

Mark is co-author with NJRC composer-in-residence Merek Royce Press of Octet: A Concert Play, which received its world premiere at NJRC in 2000. Two of his plays, Helen’s Most Favorite Day and Dix Tableaux, have gone on to publication and national licensing by Samuel French. His novels include the award-winning Ella Minnow Pea, Welcome to Higby, Ibid, the children’s novel The Calamitous Adventures of Rodney and Wayne, Under the Harrow and Feral Park.

Mark teaches creative writing and leads playwriting seminars around the country, in addition to serving as Vice President of the non-profit PULA (People United for Libraries in Africa), which he founded with his wife, Mary, in 2002.
“There is indeed power in words.
 Most of the lasting change that has been forged in the history of this world came not from a wielding of the swift and bloody sword of battle but from the shaping scalpel of ideas, and what are ideas without the words to deliver them?”
Mark Dunn,
Under the Harrow

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