Frindle by Andrew Clements

Cover of Frindle

Captain’s Log: Module 6

Port of Call: Clements, A. (1996). Frindle. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

First Lines: If you asked the kids and the teachers at Lincoln Elementary School to make three lists – all the really bad kids, all the really smart kids, and all the really good kids – Nick Allen would not be on any of them. Nick deserved a list all his own, and everyone knew it.

Summary: In an attempt to stall his English class, Nick Allen starts thinking about the origins of language. Partially out of curiosity about the way language changes, bu mostly in an effort to test the boundaries of his teacher – who thinks the dictionary is the most important book children can read – Nick convinces his classmates to begin calling pens ‘frindles’. The ensuing story covers the range of reactions Nick faces as part of his experiment, from the initial punishment by his teacher in reaction to the perceived prank, to the mass-involvement of the student body in perpetuating the ‘frindle’ mayhem, to the eventual media coverage and reverberation of ‘frindle’ usage nationwide. Nick Allen’s experiences teach him about activism, and promoting what you believe in through healthy behaviors. Testing the limits placed on us by society and doing it gracefully without hurting others in defense of your beliefs. This book has a wonderful message that encourages children to think, and the ending is heartwarming with Nick and his teacher realizing the mutual respect they have for each other regardless of their differing viewpoints.

First Impression I love stories about troublemakers, and this book certainly was light and easy reading with a subtle message about testing boundaries in a healthy way. I liked the illustrations by Brian Selznick and think this is a great, non-intimidating book to recommend for middle-schoolers.

Suggestions for use: I would recommend this book to any middle-schooler, but especially those with an abundance of energy and drive, but little direction for useful application of that energy. Students unhappy with their status quo, or those who are thinkers and brave enough to do something to make a change will find inspiration in this book. Certainly though, this book can teach any student a lesson about what greatness can happen with a cool head and a willingness to experiment.


School Library Journal:

“Gr 3-6– Nick’s idea to invent a brand new word is both a challenge and a tribute to his dictionary-loving, language-arts teacher. He devises ingenious ways to encourage people to start referring to pens as “frindles.” Chaotic events follow as the word becomes a national phenomenon and, finally, an actual dictionary entry. Along with the humor, there are plenty of thought-provoking insights about the nature of words and their importance to the lives of regular people.”

Engelfried, S. (2004). Frindle (Book). School Library Journal50(6), 56. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Horn Book Magazine:

“The author has created a fresh, imaginative plot that will have readers smiling all the way through, if not laughing out loud. Nick, a champion time-waster, faces the challenge of his life when confronted with the toughest teacher in school, Mrs. Granger. Always counted on to filibuster the impending test or homework assignment away, Nick has met his match in “Dangerous Grangerous,” who can spot a legitimate question in a second and has no patience with the rest. In answer to “Like, who says that d-o-g means the thing that goes ‘woof’ and wags its tail? Who says so?” she replies, “You do, Nicholas. You and me and everyone in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country.” And thus is born frindle, Nick’s new name for pen, promising and delivering a classic student-teacher battle along the lines of — but far funnier than — Avi’s Nothing But the Truth (Orchard). The battle assumes the proportions of a tall tale, and although outrageous and hilarious, it’s all plausible, and every bit works from the premise to the conclusion. The brisk narration is rapid-fire, and Nick is one of the most charming troublemakers since Soup. The merchandising future of this one is too terrible to contemplate; the cutting-edge gift this Christmas has got to be a frindle.”

E.S.W. (1996). Frindle. Horn Book Magazine72(6), 732-733. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.