by Andrew Clements (1992)
Frindle tells the story of Nick Allen, a kid who “had plenty of ideas, and he knew want to do with them.” So far, his trip though elementary school has been eventful, but fairly trouble-free. Yes, he has implemented some crazy ideas, but he has never really faced a true adversary. That is, until 5th grade and Mrs. Granger, the no-nonsense language arts teacher who quickly sizes Nick up as a challenge to her authority. And, she does not like a challenge to her authority – at all. Or, at least that’s the way she appears…
The thing Mrs. Granger surely does like is her beloved dictionary. Etymology, grammar, spelling, vocabulary – these are the things that warm Mrs. Granger’s heart. So, when Nick asks, “Who says d-o-g means that thing that goes ‘woof’ and wags its tail?” she cheerfully answers, “Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas.” From this simple, provocative answer Nick hatches an idea – a creative, irreverent idea to take on the authority of adults.
Frindle breezily demonstrates why Andrew Clements is such a popular author with elementary school students. All children will be amused by the classroom situations that Clements uses to move his tale along at a quick clip. Hopefully, teachers and parents can manage the inventive defiance of authority that Nick inspires in his classmates, even if it inspires some defiance in the book’s readers. Frindle’s brisk pacing will engage adults and children alike with the ethical questions it poses – particularly the question of the right and wrong way to challenge authority.