You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > Our June read - Ella Minnow Pea

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message 1: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (last edited May 16, 2009 03:12AM) (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments

ABOUT THE BOOK

In Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn transports readers to the imaginary island of Nollop, named for Nevin Nollop, inventor of the pangram (a sentence using all letters of the alphabet) "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." It is an idyllic place, free from technological innovations like television and computers, where Nollopians devote themselves to the liberal arts and especially to the cultivation of language. But when a tile containing the letter "Z" falls from the monument the islanders have erected to honor Nollop and his illustrious sentence, a chain of events is set in motion which will threaten the very foundations of the Nollopian state. The High Island Council calls an emergency session to discuss the fallen letter and in it they see a sign and portent, a message from the great Nollop himself to cease all use of the letter "Z" in spoken and written communication. The Council passes a law against uttering words containing the letter; punishment for violating their strictures can lead to banishment and even death. And as further letters begin to fall, Ella Minnow Pea and her family, along with the rest of community, are forced to live under linguistic siege. Books are destroyed. Newspapers shut down. Citizens are publicly flogged, placed in stocks, their property confiscated and their lives ruined, all for slips of the tongue. But with the help of Nate Warren, a researcher living in South Carolina, the islanders decide to fight back, vowing to create a pangram even shorter and therefore more dazzling than the one for which Nollop has been elevated to divine status. The only question is: can they do it before all is lost?

Charming, intellectually engaging, and filled with fascinating wordplay, Ella Minnow Pea is a cautionary tale about authoritarianism, about the dangers of reading signs and symbols where there are none–and about the irrepressible human urge to speak freely.



message 2: by Petra (new)

Petra Sounds like an interesting story. I've requested it from the Library and it should be here by June. Looking forward to my first Read-along with this Group.



message 3: by Jo (new)

Jo (Jo_Wales) | 62 comments Looking forward to the June read! Wow, Jen - how this group has grown in numbers! Feel proud of yourself for making it a success!


message 4: by Vicki (new)

Vicki (vicki507) Just picked up my copy today. I am so excited to read it. I have heard some really good things about this one:)


message 5: by Jaime (new)

Jaime | 240 comments I am next in line on my swap site for the book. I hope it comes soon!!!


message 6: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) Oh dear....can someone give me pointers on how to lead this?? I didn't actually think my book was going to win....oy


message 7: by Susan (last edited May 17, 2009 08:47AM) (new)

Susan Heather wrote: "Oh dear....can someone give me pointers on how to lead this?? I didn't actually think my book was going to win....oy"

Here's a link to a reading group guide for Ella Minnow Pea- maybe it will give you some ideas - http://www.readinggroupguides.com/gui...

I just ordered another copy as I lent mine to someone about four years ago and never got it back - :( - It was on a reading list for incoming freshmen at our local high school to read over the summer.


message 8: by John (new)

John I read this a few years ago so I have pulled it out of my read pile and put it back in my to read pile. I remember it being a lot of fun the first time I read it.


message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) well it sounds like there are going to be quite a few takers. goody. makes my lil job easier, eh?


message 10: by Donna (new)

Donna (electrogirl68) | 116 comments I have read this before a few years ago but I'm looking forward to reading it again. It is a quick read too - you'll all find out why when you start it!



message 11: by Donna (new)

Donna (electrogirl68) | 116 comments Susan wrote: "Heather wrote: "Oh dear....can someone give me pointers on how to lead this?? I didn't actually think my book was going to win....oy"

Here's a link to a reading group guide for Ella Minnow Pea- ..."


Wow, I really do not analyse books in this way. I read them to enjoy them and recommend the ones I like to others, all the analysis make my poor head hurt!! I'll put in my tuppence worth in the discussion though, hee hee!


message 12: by Donna (new)

Donna (electrogirl68) | 116 comments Susan wrote: "Heather wrote: "Oh dear....can someone give me pointers on how to lead this?? I didn't actually think my book was going to win....oy"

Here's a link to a reading group guide for Ella Minnow Pea- ..."


Whoops, I started and finished the book in less than 24 hours and its still May 20th. I shall have to try to remember it for when the discussion opens! I think I will have a look at the above site now I have read it though and see what I think of the questions it poses.


message 13: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Write stuff down!! Got my copy today!!


message 14: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 453 comments I think my summer will be spent reading books set on an island! So many good ones were nominated and I look forward to reading most of them, including this one.


message 15: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 70 comments Since I've just started this, I'm thinking I'm going to need a dictionary close by!


message 16: by Cecily (last edited Jun 01, 2009 02:24AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Shannon wrote: "I think my summer will be spent reading books set on an island! So many good ones were nominated and I look forward to reading most of them, including this one."

I can highly recommend a couple of the other nominations: Galapagos and Small Island A Novel.


message 17: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Brenda wrote: "Since I've just started this, I'm thinking I'm going to need a dictionary close by!"

After the first 20 pages or so of Ella, he largely stops using obscure words, so you can probably discard the dictionary.


message 18: by Donna (new)

Donna (electrogirl68) | 116 comments C F S R wrote:

I can highly re..."


I just discovered we have a copy of Galapagos in the house which hubby bought and read 20-odd years ago! Have added it to my "to read" shelf.


message 19: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) You thought his vocabulary obscure?? how so?


message 20: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Heather wrote: "You thought his vocabulary obscure?? how so?"

I'm guessing Brenda was referring to words such as detachation, multype writudes, empyrean, extirpated, lucubrating, anserous and aposiopesis which litter the first 17 pages. That's certainly what I meant.

Thereafter, Dunn seems to tire of that game and stick to mundane words, until the second half when the vocab finally becomes somewhat constrained and contorted due to the letters that have been prohibited.


message 21: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) ah yes, I can imagine that those would be considered "obscure"


message 22: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Come on... are you telling us you know what they all mean without looking them up? LOL


message 23: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) not all of them, but a fair half I would say. CSFR...come on you know my well enough by now to know that I am a voracious reader. I can't read THAT much without knowing something, can I? ;P


message 24: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) besides, I read China Mieville. He is the epitomy of a vocabulary lesson. The man loves loves his words!

sorry, I am teensy bit Mieville obsessed @ the moment. I get to see him in 7 days!! big big squee


message 25: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Heather wrote: "not all of them, but a fair half I would say. CSFR...come on you know my well enough by now to know that I am a voracious reader. I can't read THAT much without knowing something, can I? ;P"

Well, only 4 of those 7 were in the complete Oxford Digital Reference Shelf or the enormous 400,000 entry Bloomsbury/Encarta English Dictionary. One of the other 3 comes up via Google and the last 2 remain a mystery. Maybe he made them up?


message 26: by Cecily (last edited Jun 02, 2009 01:05AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Heather wrote: "I am teensy bit Mieville obsessed @ the moment."

Any recommendations as to a good one to try him out?

I like thoughtful sci fi/dystopian/futuristic fiction (as long as it's not space cowboys and continuous battles), but generally not crime, detective or courtroom-based plots. Also, if any of his books evangelically political (I know he is or was a socialist activist and political candidate), I doubt they would be my cup of tea. Is there one that fits all those criteria?


message 27: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) Just read Perdido Street Station. That's the first of his bas-lag novels. They are brilliant. He has a remarkable command of his world, and the characters in it are just amazing. There are parts of the book that really make you feel like you are there.

Or, for something lighter and more fun, (just because perdido is really deep) go for Un Lun Dun. It was his first foray into YA literature and it is really quite lovely. There is a bit of a message in it, only because of what the main characters are fighting, but otherwise, it's just a fun read with many of his bizzare characters.


message 28: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Thanks. I've put Perdido Street Station on my TBR (I like the fact it's likened to Gormenghast). I'm less sure about Un Lun Dun, so will see what Perdito is like first.


message 29: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) I hope you like it. Mieville is one of my favorites.


message 30: by Petra (new)

Petra C F S R wrote: Thereafter, Dunn seems to tire of that game and stick to mundane words, until the second half when the vocab finally becomes somewhat constrained and contorted due to the letters that have been prohibited.

I love the new words being used as the letters are prohibited. It's rather ingenious of the people to use the letters they have left to communicate effectively. Some of the words make me laugh out loud when I first encounter them.




message 31: by Darren (new)

Darren Davies | 15 comments I have just ordered my copy of Ella MP and it should be dropping through the door within 24hrs. Can't wait! Here we go first group read.


message 32: by Jaime (new)

Jaime | 240 comments I'm hoping my copy gets here soon. I ordered it from Paperbackswap, but it's coming from across the country. Sometimes it takes awhile!!


message 33: by Heather (new)

Heather (hpduck) I move that this gets thrown up into the actual discussion section as that is where all Ella stuff should go. :)


message 34: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Good idea. Maybe Jenny could lock this discussion?


message 35: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Locking the discussion as of now my dears! Glad there has been so much going on while I've been away though!!

It's lovely to have new people joining in Darren!!


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You'll love this one...!! A book club & more

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Galápagos (other topics)
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