Saturday, May 22, 2010


Hello! This is my first post on Saffrontree. We are a family of compulsive readers, who consider a day wasted if we have not got our teeth into a good book for at least some time in the day. I have one daughter who has just turned 9, whom I'll call A. My house is overflowing with books, and I have long ago given up any attempts to fit them into bookshelves. As long as we find the book we want when we want it!

A and I have had some wonderful times reading together ever since she was old enough to sit. She is now majorly into reading by herself, but we still find time to read together.  When I visit bookstores, I usually buy by author, especially when I buy for A. She tends to have phases in which she reads all that she can lay her hands on by the flavour of the season. During a sale I went to some time back, I picked some books by different writers, some of which I had previously not tried. I decided to read them myself before handing them over to her. They were quick reads, and I had soon finished the 1st. It had proved to be un-put-downable, and I was enchanted by it. Not to mention that A loved it when she finally got her hands onto it!;

Written by Andrew Clements.
Illustrations: Brian Selznick.
Published by Simon & Schuster.
Ages:8-12 yrs.

Image: Courtesy Wikipedia. 

Nicholas (Nick) Allen is your regular tween in the fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary school. He is a bright child, with plenty of original ideas, and never at a loss for words. He could have been called a troublemaker in a more conservative era, prone as he was to stirring up his classmates to get down to some mischief. He had had easygoing teachers until he reached the fifth grade and encountered Mrs. Granger.

Now Mrs. Granger is a strict disciplinarian, the no nonsense sort, with a fondness for dictionaries, "Look it up!" is one of her favourite phrases.

One day, Nick decides to play the fool in Mrs. Granger's class so that he can help the class to avoid an assignment. He asks her how the words in the dictionary came to be there in the first place. She is aware of his reputation, and does not let him distract her. Instead, she asks him to take it up as an assignment. He will have to make a presentation at the next class about the origin of words.

Nick knows he is cornered, but rises to the occasion. He does his reference work, and puts together a presentation. Mrs. Granger realises that she is up against a very original mind. In the discussion which follows, Mrs Granger remarks that it is we, people who decide what to call a thing by some word. Which is how most words originated and evolved. "If all of us decided to call a dog something else, that would become the word for it. We decide what goes in that book."

This gives Nick an idea. He gets his friends together, and tells them that from that day on, they should all call a pen a 'frindle'. Every time they speak of a pen, between themselves, at home, in class, even in a shop while buying a pen, they were to call it a frindle. Until one day, the shopowner too called it a frindle. Soon word spreads and all children at school begin to call it a frindle.

Mrs. Granger fights against this onslaught on her beloved dictionary, till she stands against the whole school. Whole hordes of students are made to stay back after school and write lines guessed it-frindles. Parents think that there is much ado being made about nothing. Everywhere the topic being discussed is the battle between Nick and Mrs. Granger. The matter escalates until one day there appears a story in the local newspaper, then the national newspapers, and then on the CBS evening news. Through it all, Nick and Mrs. Granger stick to their positions and do not back off. An enterpreneur makes millions of 'frindles' with that name written on them, patents them, and Nick has a bank account opened in his name with millions of dollars pouring in as his percentage from the sale of these frindles.

One day, Mrs. Granger calls him and shows him a sealed envelope with a letter inside it. She asks him to write his name, address, and the date on it in his handwriting. She tells him that the battle is far from over, and that she would give him the letter when it finally was.

What happens further in the book is for the reader to find out. What is the issue at hand? Why is Mrs. Granger so dead set against Nick? What does the letter inside the envelope say? And what happens to Nick's word, FRINDLE? Wouldn't you like to know?

It is a wonderful story about the student-teacher relationship, and the commitment of a good teacher to educating the worthy student, not just teaching him.

The 105 page book is an un-put-downable easy read. It keeps the reader interested in wanting to find out what happens next. Warning: Do not read the ending first. It will detract from the pleasure of finding out.

Crossposted from here.


sathish said...

wow! sounds vvery interesting. frindle vs. pen! who will win?

welcome to ST.

Choxbox said...

Welcome to ST Sandhya!

Great review, still looking for this one.

Praba Ram said...

Hi Sandhya,

Welcome aboard. Nice pick. Great review.

Interesting that your very first review is a book by Andrew Clements. Shelving his books at the school library, I've always thought he has written some wonderful books in the genre of realistic fiction. I have been eyeing a few for my 8 year old considering one of her favorite themes is "kids like me in a school setting" books. :)


ranjani.sathish said...

sandhya, welcome aboard st ! wonderful pick and I think my nearly 8 yr old son might enjoy it !!

Vibha said...

Great Pick Sandhya, and welcome to ST!

Andrew Clements is very popular here too.

sandhya said...

Thanks, everyone for making me so welcome. Indebted to you, Choxbox, for introducing me to ST.:)

@satish: yes, wouldn't you like to know? You must read the book for that.

@Chox: Hey, I have a spare copy. Someone gifted it to us. Want me to pass it on to you?

@Prabha: Actually this is the only book of his that we have read. Somehow I've never seen his other books although I have searched. I'm still on the look-out:)

@ranjani: Yes, I'm sure he will!

@vibha: thanks. It is a pleasure to be on board.

Choxbox said...

Sandhya: Do we want it? Really, is there any other answer to such a Q?!

Artnavy said...

Welcome here Sandhya! Right where you belong!

And I shall come to Chox and you and of course ST when Anush begins reading on her own and gets through what we have at home.

And yes, wonderful review.

sandhya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sandhya said...

Thanks, Art. Anytime.

Choxbox said...

@Art: Will be my pleasure, though I bet you will already have some some stuff lined up :)

@Sandhya: Laid my hands on it. Child read it, mother read it and then grandmother read it!
Three thumbs-up(s)!

sathish said...

sandhya, we found it too - and I love the ending!! :)

sandhya said...

That's great, Choxbox, Satish. And it was fast work!:)

Choxbox said...

Sandhya, maybe the credit goes to the compelling review!

sandhya said...

Thanks, Chox!

utbtkids said...

We(children at home, I mean :) ) are young to check out this book. But filing it away for future reference.

Welcome to ST.

sandhya said...

Thanks, utbtkids!

starry eyed said...

We just got this book from our library and it rocks! Thanks for this review that inspired me to borrow it!

sandhya said...

@starry: That's great to know!:)

Vibha said...

Sandhya, just finished reading Frindle to R and M and I think this is one of the best books I have read so far. Especially liked the letter that the teacher writes to Nick, very touching.

Vidya said...

I want to get hold of this book, like, right now! Thanks for the wonderful review!

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