Ella Minnow Pea lives on a small island called Nollop, just off the coast of the eastern United States. The island is it's own nation, having been founded by Nevin Nollop, the gentleman credited for coming up with the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." (For those of you a few years out of grammar school, this sentence is used frequently as an illustration of a sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet.)
The trouble begins when a local child discovers the tile of the letter "Z" broken beneath the statue of the founder and his famous sentence. She takes it to the council. They decide that this is Mr. Nollop's way of telling them from beyond the grave that the letter "Z" is no longer needed. They ban it from use. A mistaken use will earn you a warning. Your second will earn you your choice of either a whipping or some time in the stockade. Another oversight and you're banished.
Within the next few days, "Q" and "J" also fall. The council holds firm and bans these letters as well. Troubles begin to mount.
The book is written in a series of letters, primarily between Ella and her cousin. Creatively, the author eliminates the fallen letters from their dialect as the story progresses. His use of the English language is quite amazing. I'm pretty sure I would've given myself an aneurysm trying to figure out other ways to go about saying what I wanted to say.
I liked this book. I thought it was cute. It was certainly an improvement after reading Girls in White Dresses. I have to admit though, it was a little difficult to read. I really had to be awake and paying attention as there were some interesting vocabulary choices. There were a few words that I had literally never heard before. The people on this island are certainly well educated when it comes to language.
The difficulty in reading was the primary thing that kept this book from getting five stars. The story is a little quirky and certainly somewhat gimmicky, but it was entertaining. That was nice. I had a hard time deciding how to rate it - in fact, I nearly changed my rating while writing this review. Overall, I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. This rating is not available on Goodreads, so it winds up with a downgraded 3 out of 5 stars.