I read a book in the 60's when I was a child. The narrator or main character arrives at an island, due to a shipwreck or some other disaster, and discovers a utopian society. The families there have taken on the letters of the alphabet as their last names (Mr. A, Mrs. B, etc.) There are only twenty families as there would be confusion if someone were named "U" (call out "Hey U," and everyone would react). I believe that is the reason why the narrator is told he cannot stay. Any ideas what book or short story this may be?

marked as duplicate by Otis, Jason Baker, Attack Helicopter, FuzzyBoots story-identification Oct 12 '16 at 15:54

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This is 1947 Newbery-award winning book The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois, one of my great favorites as a child. The edition I remember had this cover:

enter image description here

but it looks like newer editions have a different one.

The utopian island with the alphabetic families is Krakatoa, so things don't end well for their society.

The discussion about using U as a name goes like this:

Another good reason is that the twenty-first letter in the alphabet is 'U'. You wouldn't want to be called Mr. U. Everytime somebody said, 'Hey, you!' you would have to turn around. If someone asked you who you were, you would have to answer, 'I am U.' You would keep overhearing snatches of conversation which would bother you. If someone were to tell a friend, 'I want to see you tonight,' you would wonder what was meant by 'you'...

I loved all the detailed drawings by the author like this cutaway of the hero's balloon-lofted house.

enter image description here

It's a great book. And if anyone is wondering, from the wikipedia article on the author:

These books exhibit whimsical ingenuity in story and illustrations. Though not usually so classified, these books seem to qualify as science fiction.

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    Great book! I still remember mainly three things: First, that in the M's dining hall the tables and chairs were on single stalks like elevator pistons and after eating the tables and chairs would lower to become flush with the floor so that the room - tables, floor, and all - could be cleaned by simply sweeping everything away and mopping everything up. I still want a dining room like that. Second, the marvelous balloon carousel. And third: The reason why there were only 20 families, not 21, which the OP also remembers and which you reproduced above. – davidbak Jul 28 '15 at 21:07
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    That's it! Thank you. You have solved a decades-old riddle. – stancial Jul 30 '15 at 14:55

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