Nicholas Allen has plenty of ideas. Who can forget the time he turned his third-grade classroom into a tropical island, or the times he fooled his teacher by chirping like a blackbird? But now Nick’s in fifth grade, and it looks like his days as a troublemaker are over. Everyone knows that Mrs. Granger, the language arts teacher, has X-ray vision, and nobody gets away with anything in her classroom. To make matters worse, she’s also a fanatic about the dictionary, which is hopelessly boring to Nick. But when Nick learns an interesting tidbit about words and where they come from, it inspires his greatest plan yet: to invent a new word. From now on, a pen is no longer a pen — it’s a frindle. It doesn’t take long for frindle to take root, and soon the excitement spreads well beyond his school and town. His parents and Mrs. Granger would like Nick to put an end to all this nonsense. But frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. All he can do now is sit back and watch what happens.
This quirky, imaginative tale about creative thought and the power of words will have readers inventing their own words. Brian Selznick’s black-and-white illustrations enhance the humor in this unforgettable story.
I’ve been making a point to find books to feature in my future classroom. At the recommendation of some fellow teachers, I was excited to check this particular book out. However, I have to say, I was sorely disappointed in this story, especially when the book feels like there were two story lines smashed together to make a lackluster story.
First of all, I found Nicholas to be an annoying, spoiled brat. Maybe as a child, I would have cheered for his ability to stir up trouble. As an adult, I can’t fathom why teachers would recommend this book. I have no problem with the idea of a child coming up with a prank, but this book actually foretells the downfall of our vocabulary as we know it. Frindle is just some random word, yet, even in today’s society (twenty years after this book was written) we have words such as bae and twerk in the dictionary. I suppose I should commend the author on his ability to foresee such a thing occurring in the real word. But honestly, as I am not fond of having slang placed into a dictionary and represented as solid vocabulary, this book and the story annoys me. I could not see myself encouraging my students to make up stupid, meaningless words.
However, there was part of the story I liked and that is the way Nicholas is able to think outside of the box. As a teacher, I want to be encouraging to my future students and their pursuits to think outside the box and solve problems. It’s because of this aspect of the book, I wish I could tear the book in half.
This isn’t the worst book ever and perhaps my opinion is clouded because I am reading it as an adult. But I will not incorporate this into my classroom and would not recommend this book.