This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in a while. It was just so clever, and I could not put it down!
Title – Ella Minnow Pea: a novel in letters
Author – Mark Dunn
Page count – 208
Rating – Buy. I will definitely read this again and anticipate recommending it frequently.
Ella Minnow Pea is a teenager living on the fictional island of Nollop, just off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, the (again, fictional) creator of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (This sentence is a pangram, meaning it uses all the letters of the alphabet at least once.) This sentence is spelled out in tiles on a statue of Nollop, but as the tiles suddenly start to fall off, the islanders are forbidden to write or speak using those fallen letters. The book is written as a series of letters/notes between the inhabitants of the island, including Ella. As more letters fall from the statue, the letter-writers have to get creative with how they communicate to avoid using the forbidden letters.
A quick thought: Sometimes I find the use of long or complex words in a story as the author just wanting to sound smart. I didn’t get that vibe here. The characters simply seem to appreciate selecting exactly the right word to express what they mean. And it helps to highlight the change in language as certain letters become forbidden.
**Some SPOILERS ahead for minor plot points, but I won’t give away anything major or the ending. You should experience that fresh for yourself** Continue reading “Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)”
Y’all…I LOVE giving books as gifts. My most consistent recipients are the tiny humans recently birthed by my friends. One of my favorite memories from my childhood is my sister and I each getting to pick out a book and Mom reading them before we went to bed. Ferdinand the Bull is one I would pick over and over just because my sister didn’t like it. 🙂 Other favorite children’s picture books I like to give are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Snowy Day, and Chrysanthemum.
Need some more ideas? Here are a couple lists from the New York Public Library and WeNeedDiverseBooks. And if you want to explore options for adults (or yourself), here is a playlist from a youtuber I like named Rosianna. Scroll through for reviews, gift idea lists, and more.
But it’s not enough to start kids early! There are so many good books for older kids and young adults, and if they’ve gotten to a point where they say they just don’t like to read, maybe they haven’t found the right genre. Some people don’t consider themselves “readers” until their interest is piqued by a graphic novel or a biography about their sports hero or a manual on how to fix cars – all totally valid forms of literature!
Unfortunately, it’s not just a lack of interest that keeps young adults away from books. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have access, whether they don’t have the resources to buy books or transportation to go to the library. And sometimes it’s because they’re incarcerated.
To be clear, this is NOT a sponsored post. Liberation Library is just an organization I recently learned about that helps match books to youth who are in prisons in the Chicago area. As their mission statement says: “Liberation Library provides books to youth in prison to encourage imagination, self-determination and connection to the outside worlds of their choosing. We believe access to books is a right, not a privilege. We believe books and relationships empower young people to change the criminal justice system.”
I know a lot of people this time of year are looking for ways to donate their time or resources to a non-profit/charitable organization, and this one looks like it might be a good fit for all you book lovers out there! What I like about them is that they fulfill specific requests for books these kids are actually interested in. If this looks like a cause you would like to support, go check them out!