Frindle by Andrew Clements Review

by Daniel Johnston on April 18, 2014 · 2 comments

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There are a lot of kids books that are fun, that are exciting, that you enjoy.

There are very few, however, that you still love and treasure long after your childhood. The type of books that you remember perfectly, that you return to and read and like it just as much you did all those years ago.

Frindle by Andrew Clements is one of those books. Written for third to sixth graders, it’s a story that will keep any reader entertained throughout the whole book.

Summary

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to Nick, a fifth-grader in Mrs. Granger’s class. The school year is just starting, but Nick is already experimenting with ways to sidetrack his teacher (and maybe make her forget to give the homework). Nick is known for stuff like that.

Unfortunately, the plan backfires, and Nick is forced to answer his own bogus questions about where words come from. Even though Mrs. Granger intended it as a punishment, Nick finds the subject interesting.

When Nick’s friend drops a pen and Nick accidentally calls it a frindle, he gets a crazy idea: What if everyone started calling pens frindles? Since a word is given a name by popular usage, wouldn’t that make it a frindle, not a pen?

Nick recruits his friends to start using the word frindle instead of pen. When they go to the store, they ask for frindles. In Mrs. Granger’s class, people begin referring to pens as frindles. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Granger doesn’t like this, and anyone who uses the term frindle in her class has to write, “I am writing this punishment with a pen,” 100 times.

The term frindle has become a fad, however, and many people look upon the punishment as merely a badge of honor. Before long the entire school has replaced pen with frindle in their own vocabulary.

The news media finds out about this, and it ends up making national news. The frindle fight is full blown. Will frindle be added to the dictionary, or will Mrs. Granger win in the end?

Review

This is an awesome book. Clements does a very good job of communicating a worldview in his books, and this one is no exception. Nick is a smart kid who has his own sense of what is right, and is more than willing to stand up for it.

Nick is a totally real person and so are his friends. We can also identify with his teacher Mrs. Granger, who in the end actually turns out to have been Nick’s ally all along!

This book also brings up an important point that words are only what we call things, not what the thing actually is. Although not very many kids will get this at a deep level, it will definitely get them thinking.

Plus, it’s a blast to read, so even reluctant readers will like it. You’re totally hooked on what Nick is going to do next and what will happen with the frindle battles.

A national fad like frindle is not going to come for every idea, but it definitely encourages kids to get creative and approach life with vigor and energy. For third to sixth graders, Frindle is a sure-hit.

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Review

by Daniel Johnston on April 15, 2014 · 1 comment

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a classic dystopian book and one most people read in school. Unlike the proliferation of poor dystopian books today, Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates a very clear point and is written quite well.

I read Fahrenheit 451 for English in 9th grade and rather enjoyed it. The point of the book is the importance of freedom in regard to what books we read (451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper burns). It is therefore ironic that Fahrenheit 451 has been censored in many libraries.

Summary

At the beginning of the book we meet a man named Guy Montag who is a fireman at some point in the future. Where and when is never explained.

Although firemen as we think of them are people who set out fires, in Fahrenheit 451 firemen burn the possessions of people reading outlawed books.

Montag is pretty much as deeply entrenched in this book burning business you can get, being a fireman and everything. However, he meets a girl named Clarisse who makes him start to reconsider his life. 

Not long after, Montag’s wife Mildred overdosing on sleeping pills, but wakes up fine the next morning without memory of the incident. He keeps talking to Clarisse, but one day she disappears.

Montag’s worldview has been challenged enough that while burning a house he secretly steals one of the books. The woman in the house refuses to abandon her books and instead dies with them. Montag also realizes how little he really knows about his wife and much people are distracted by the TV screens all around.

Montag begins to consider quitting his job, and Captain Beatty, the fire chief, talks with Montag. He explains how books are not good for the new pace of life. He also knows that Montag took the book but says that every fireman does it and it’ll be fine as long as he burns it.

Montag only becomes more disillusioned from his talk with Beatty and reveals to his wife that he has been collecting a stash of hidden books. At first she is astonished to tries to burn them, but they decide to read them together to see if anything worthwhile is contained in them.

Montag realizes that he’ll need help to understand the books and enlists the help of an old English teacher named Faber. He takes to him a rare copy of the Bible, and Faber gives Montag an earpiece communicator so they can chat.

Montag continues getting more into books and at work is shocked when he drives at work to burn his own house. Mildred has reported him and is now leaving him for his interest in books. Beatty forces Montag to burn his own house down, but he also burns Beatty.

Montag is hunted by mechanical dogs and helicopters for his life. Will he manage to escape, or will he be torn to shreds? Has the world completely done away with books, or are there still book lovers left, waiting will society suffers?

Review

Fahrenheit 451 is a really well written and easy to understand book. The other lesson other than the importance of books is the negative impact of the distraction that all the TV and media can have on our lives. Definitely a timely message.

This book was written at a time when a lot of books where being censored. Even today many schools censor books, and this book has even been censored more than once.

Any book lover will love of course love reading about the value of books and how important they are to society. I also think this is a good one to read for people who don’t already have such an appreciation of books to help them develop it. Not for reluctant readers, but definitely good for those whose reading interest level is indifferent or above.

The best age range for this book is probably 8th to 10th grade. This book means to communicate a clear message. I only wish all dystopian novels were like this.

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The 39 Clues: Shatterproof by Roland Smith

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I Won the Fairchild Challenge! The One Moment by Daniel Johnston (Original Short Story)

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Note: This post was originally written in March, 2012. Recently, Scholastic released the newest book in the explosive The 39 Clues action series, The Dead of Night by Peter Lerangis. This has long been one of my all-time favorite kids series, and I usually finish the book the very day it comes out. For those who […]

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