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Literature / Frindle

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A children's novel by Andrew Clements.

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 book provides examples of:

  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mrs. Granger likes to come up with interesting punishments, such as sticking a student's chewing gum on a card and pinning it to the student's shirt for the rest of the day.
  • Dog Latin: "But I guess that if the Latin word for feather had been frindilus instead of pinna, then you probably would have invented the word pen instead."
  • Forbidden Fruit: Mrs. Granger's ban on the word frindle makes it all the more appealing to the students.
  • Future Slang: The Distant Epilogue shows us that "Frindle" made it into Webster's Dictionary as a slang for pen.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Nick gets "punished" early in the book when he tries to nudge Mrs. Granger into talking about the dictionary so that she'll forget to assign that day's homework. She instead assigns him a speech about the origins of the dictionary due the next day, and Nick turns it into the longest filibuster he has ever done.
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    • Nick also tries to test the blackbird's ability to fool predators with its chirp in class. Sure enough, his teacher gets confused, and mistakenly punishes his friend Janet. Luckily, the two make up, and later more fun is had in confusing their teacher with chirps, which she decides to just ignore.
    • Nick later considers the spread of "frindle" to be this.
  • Heel Realization:
    • When she gets over her initial overreaction, Mrs. Granger realizes that she has ended up in the villain role and decides to play it up to help "frindle" along.
    • Nick too when he realizes just how wide an effect his pranks have had. Cue Heroic BSoD.
  • Heroic BSoD / My God, What Have I Done?: Nick, but Mrs. Granger talks him out of it.
  • Holding the Floor: Nick turns an oral report into an epic, lesson-stalling filibuster.
  • Neologizer: Nick, in possibly one of the only times it has actively affected the plot.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: All the publicity just helps to strengthen and spread Nick's word.invoked
  • Out-Gambitted: On the first day of class, Nick asks a question about the dictionary in the hopes that Mrs. Granger will answer it instead of giving the class the homework assignment. Instead, she tells him to look the answer as an extra homework assignment.
    • Nick makes his oral report as long as possible, in order to stall the day's lesson. Mrs. Granger teaches the day's lesson in record time, and still manages to give the class homework.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: In addition to the title, "quiz" is brought up in the book as another example of one.
  • Reverse Psychology: Mrs. Granger bans the word "frindle" for the express purpose of ensuring it spreads.
  • Stealth Mentor: Mrs. Granger to Nick, encouraging him to continue with his ideas (though within reason of course).
  • Streisand Effect: All attempts to stop Nick's new word from spreading simply help it along. As it turns out, this was invoked by Mrs. Granger.
  • Writing Lines: To enforce her ban on the word frindle, Mrs. Granger makes them stay after school and write "I am writing this with a pen" 100 times. The students make a game of seeing how many times they can get away with changing the sentence to "I am writing this with a frindle."