‘Ella Minnow Pea’ and a call to seek out ‘non-trending’ books

“Hundreds of words await ostracism from our functional vocabularies: waltz and fizz and squeeze and booze and frozen pizza pie, frizzy and fuzzy and dizzy and duzzy, the visualization of emphyzeema-zapped Tarzans, wheezing and sneezing, holding glazed and anodized bazookas, seized by all the bizarrities of this zany zone we call home.”

Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea is one of my favorite books of all time. On a whim, my mother placed it in my hand and said, “Read this.” So I did.

If you read the excerpt above, you may be wondering what this book could possibly be about. For lovers of words everywhere, this book is perfect for you.

Lead character Ella Minnow Pea dwells on an island called Nollop, ceremoniously named after the creator of the famous pangram (a sentence that uses all 26 letters of the alphabet) “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.” At the start of the novel, we discover that the main form of communication among the characters is through letters. Seeing as this is an island named after the famous Nevin Nollop, it is clear that the people cherish their words. In fact, they even have a statue dedicated to Nollop which showcases the pangram. Unfortunately, one day the letter “Z” falls from the statue, and the council members take this as a sign that “Z” should permanently be banned from the alphabet all together. Slowly, but surely, more and more letters continue falling, and as they do, the word choices and spelling mistakes in the letters become more and more ridiculous.

Without giving any more away, I will simply say that this book is a pleasure to read. By no means is this book very popular or well-known. However, I am so happy that I didn’t shy away from reading it just because it wasn’t “trending” at the time.

While there is nothing wrong with cracking open a book that many others are reading, I would challenge you to seek out books that aren’t often discussed–books that don’t have a movie version. Tap into something fresh and new, even if it is technically an “older” book. Pick a new genre, ask your parents or grandparents what they’d recommend. What was their favorite book as a child? Go to your library and pick something random off the shelves that draws your eye. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to reading books. There are thousands upon thousands of choices before you, and just because a famous actress will be starring in the movie, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily worth the read.

-Ruthie F.


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