Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea

A Novel in Letters

Book - 2002
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, "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.
Publisher: New York : Anchor, 2002.
ISBN: 9780385722438
Branch Call Number: FIC Dunn
Characteristics: 208 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 11, 2018

Interesting idea, but I found the long rambling letters which compose the body of the book to be rather tedious. It was fun seeing the effect of dropping letters from the alphabet. However, if one point of the book was illustrating the destructiveness of the authoritarian Council (the government body), it was sadly subverted by the rambling prose.

SCL_Mallory Jul 05, 2018

This is my new favourite book. It is epistolary as the story is told in various letters being sent back and forth within a family. It tells a very intriguing story about the importance of our alphabet and how drastically our vocabulary could change if we could no longer use specific letters of the alphabet.

Jun 19, 2017

Welcome to the island nation of Nollop, where language and education are paramount and technology is a mere frivolity. We are named after Nevin Nollop, the creator of the revered pangram: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". Prominently located at our town center in Nollopville is an impressive statue of Mr. Nollop with a cenotaph on which the renowned phrase is inscribed...

One day, a tile containing the letter Z falls from the cenotaph, and the High Island Council, believing it a "terrestrial manifestation of Mr. Nollop's wishes", issues an edict banning the use of the 26th letter of the alphabet. The novel continues to chronicle the linguistic and social effects as more letter tiles fall and are subsequently banned from both oral and written use by government edicts.

This epistolary and lipogrammatic novel is a fun and quirky read, because as letters fall from the statue, they're eliminated from the book, making it a little challenging yet still interesting to read!

LPL_MeredithW Apr 15, 2017

A really interesting novel about the fictional nation of Nollop, which starts eliminating the use of certain letters from written and spoken communication - and as the letters drop out of usage in Nollop, they're also cut from the book. Great commentary on totalitarianism + a writing trick that doesn't descend into gimmick = a fun, quick, quirky read.

Mar 06, 2017

Interesting political satire about authoritarianism and the lengths to which people will go to subvert it. This is set on a fictional island where words are very, very valued. The city council forbids the use of letters that fall off of a sign, and communication becomes more difficult as more letters are banned from use, and more arbitrary and capricious rules are imposed on the population. Of course, an underground forms in opposition to the powers that be.

An excellent read for anyone who loves words and intellectual freedom.

KateHillier Oct 20, 2016

I actually came across this book on tumblr on a post where people were talking about what would happen if certain letters just stopped existing. I was surprised to find that this concept had already been done and I had to check it out.

It's a neat concept. A small island bans letters as they fall off a statue commemorating the man who thought up a sentence that uses every letter in the english language at least once - the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The punishment for using any banned letters go from warning, to public flogging or time in the stocks, or banishment.

It's interesting to see how inventive people get with avoiding words with offending letters in them, and there is a bit of personal intrigue as people are punished and outside forces try to intervene but it was a little rough to read. Easy, it's all letters,but just not super engaging beyond the writing experiment

Jul 21, 2015

From the title to the book, this novel literally tells a story of letters. Formatted in an exchange of various letters, letters from the alphabet slowly disappears from the book. As the small town of Nollop begins to lose letters, the novel excludes them as well. This clever use of perspective and word choice entertained me throughout the story of this unique town. The story of the characters however, is not as interesting as the concept of the book. But I would still strongly recommend this light and great read to anyone with an interest in words. Because unlike other books, this is a book of letters

May 28, 2014

Welcome to Nollop, a place where the man that invented the sentence "A quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog" is revered. But as the letters of the sentence fall to the ground, the citizens come to believe it is the direct order of the now deceased fore father to eliminate the letter from their everyday life. In order to make sure people stop using the letter(s), there is strict enforcement leading to people actually being banished from the island. Chaos ensues. A brilliant idea cleverly told.

KCLSRecommends May 16, 2014

Remember that sentence which contains all the letters of the alphabet: ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’? This phrase is crucial to this funny novel told completely in letters mailed between heroine Ella and others, including the stubborn government council who begin banning certain letters of the alphabet after they fall off the island’s near-sacred memorial statue. Say the title "Ella Minnow Pea" several times quickly to get a sense of the fun here!

Apr 01, 2014

I enjoy words, and have been told before that I speak like a Dawson's Creek native (boy, howdy, knowledge of THAT show certainly dates me). So I loved the sense of fun that the Nollopians have with the written word, even before their meddling council started outlawing the use of certain letters. Their creativity in communicating as the strictures grew worse was very amusing, though their increasing desperation as more and more letters disappeared gave the story a dramatic drive. However, I do feel like there's a more serious message behind the clever premise: power corrupts, and True Believers can be dangerous enemies.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Mar 17, 2019

rabios thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Mar 28, 2012

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Mar 22, 2011

HereComeTheDrums99 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over


Add a Quote
Nov 29, 2010

"Instead of the calendrical terms Monday. Tuesday and so forth, we cheerfully offer the following surrogates. Use them freely and often, for their use honors us all.
For Sunday, please use Sunshine.
For Monday. pleasy use Monty.
For Tuesday, please use Toes.
For Wednesday, please use Wetty.
For Thursday, please use Thurby.
For Friday, please use Fribs.
For Saturday, please use Satto-gatto."


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VPL

To Top