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Frindle

Over 6.5 million copies sold!

Cover of cover_frindle_02_EN-US

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.

Cover of Frindle

Book Details

Available in Audio

Published February 1996

112 pages

Available in English, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Russian, German, Mandarin, Polish, Basque, Chinese, Hungarian, Portuguese, Japanese, Thai, and Romanian

Questions and answers about Frindle:

  1. I was talking to a bunch of first and second grade kids one autumn afternoon in 1990 at the JFK Elementary School in Middletown, Rhode Island. It was shortly after my book Big Al had been published, and that was one of the first times I had been a visiting author.

    I was teaching a little about the way words work, and about what words really are. I was trying to explain to them how words only mean what we decide they mean. They didn’t believe me when I pointed to a fat dictionary and told them that ordinary people like them and like me had made up all the words in that book—and that new words get made up all the time.

    Pulling a pen from my pocket I said, “For example, if all of us right here today said we would never call this thing a “pen” again, and that from now on we would call it a . . . frindle." I just made up the word frindle, and they all laughed because it sounded funny. And then I said, "No, really— if enough other people start to use our new word, then in five or ten years, frindle could be a real word in the dictionary.”

    There was a boy in the back of the room who didn’t believe me. He frowned and shook his head, and said, “Nah—that’s impossible. You can’t just make up a new word and have it go into the dictionary. No way.”

    So I said, “OK. There’s a little convenience store down the street from the school where you go sometimes and buy candy, right? So walk in there after school today, put 79 cents on the counter, look right at the person behind the counter and say, ‘I need to buy a frindle.’ Let's say it's a lady working there. Well, she's going to look at you like you’re crazy, but say the word again—'I need a frindle, you know, a frindle.’ Say it two or three more times, and then help her out. Point at the plastic container of pens and say, 'There they are!' Next day, have a different kid go in the store and ask the same lady for a frindle. She might remember, and she might not. But what's going to happen on the fifth day when the fifth different kid walks in there and asks that lady for a frindle? What’s that lady behind the counter going to do?”

    Well, that boy in back of the room was right with me, and he got the idea—I could see it in his face.
    He blurted out, “She’s going to say, 'Do you want a blue one or a black one?'!”
    Then I asked the boy, "Why is she going to say that?"
    And the boy said, "Because for her, frindle's going to be a real word now!"
    And it was true: For that lady in that store, frindle would be a real word. It would mean “pen.” And if that lady could learn it, why not other people too?

    The kids loved that idea, and for a couple of years I told that same story every time I went to visit and talk at a school or a library. Then one day as I was sitting at home, sifting through my life, looking for a story idea, I wondered, 'What would happen if a kid started using a new word, and other kids really liked it, but his English teacher didn’t?'

    So the idea for the book was born—and I even used that bit about the kids in the convenience store as part of the novel.

  2. The answer to that question of is sort of a moving target. When I checked with the publisher back in 2015, I was told that about 6.5 million copies are in print in the United States. I'm not sure how many more copies have sold since then, and I also don't know how many copies have been sold in the many other countries where translated versions of Frindle are for sale. But I'm grateful to say that the book keeps finding new readers--and no writer can ask for more than that.

  3. Nick is a combination of many kids I have known—both girls and boys—including myself. Mrs. Granger is also constructed from bits of many teachers I have known and some I have worked with, again, including myself.

    Frindle includes a lot of material drawn from my own experiences as a kid and a teacher and a parent. One of the things I love about Nick is that he’s right on the edge—he’s what a good friend of mine calls “Very Nearly Naughty.” But Nick is so smart and funny, and he has such a good heart and such good ideas, that you have to forgive him.

    As I continue to write longer fiction, I've been fascinated to see how life experiences get woven into the stories. I guess I always knew it worked that way, but to experience it as a writer instead of as a reader, that's always new and interesting for me.

  4. If you took a look at the other books I had written before Frindle , you'd see they were all picture books. So when I got the idea for Frindle , I tried to write that story as picture book, too. And I did it. It was only three pages long, and it was called Nick’s New Word . In just three pages I told the entire story.

    And during the next six months as I sent the three page picture book story to five different editors at five different publishing companies, they all told me basically the same thing: “It needs to be longer, don’t you think? It would be so much better as a chapter book.”

    Well, after hearing that again and again, I finally got the message, and I wrote the manuscript for the novel. It took about four months of steady work to write, and I ended up with the longest manuscript I had ever written. And when I finished and read through it, I thought it was pretty good—remember, Frindle was my very first chapter book, so I didn't have a lot of experience to draw upon.

    So I began sending the manuscript—that's the stack of paper before it gets made into a book—to editors at different publishing companies. Four different editors said "No thanks." Then one person, an editor named Stephanie Owens-Lurie, said yes. And I thought, "Hurrah! I'm done! I've written a chapter book!" Wrong. I had to go through at least five more months of rewriting—but gratefully, I had so much good advice and guidance from my wonderful editor.

    And finally, we got the story just right.

  5. Frindle is illustrated by Brian Selznick.

    He is also the illustrator of the paperback edition of The Landry News, The Janitor's Boy, The School Story, A Week in the Woods, The Report Card, The Last Holiday Concert, and The New York Times Bestseller Lunch Money. I admire Brian's work greatly, and his humor and intelligence have added so much to these books. I always look forward to seeing his work!

    Brian is the author and illustrator of many other great books including the Caldecott Medal winning title, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

  6. A lot of kids have written to me to ask if there will be another “Nick” book. Part of me would like to write more about Nick, but I don’t think it will happen. Frindle really tells a complete tale, and I think I should let it be.

    Now, what if I come upon another story about Nick, and then I actually figure out how to write it in a way that makes sense and doesn't take anything away from Frindle 's completeness—will I write that book? Absolutely. But the story hasn't come along yet. When it does, you'll hear about it. I promise.

Frindle around the world:

Frindel

Germany

Cover of Frindle in Germany

フリンドル

Japan

Cover of Frindle in Japan

Fryndel

Poland

Cover of Frindle in Poland

Frindli

Hungary

Cover of Frindle in Hungary

Frindle

United Kingdom

Cover of Frindle in United Kingdom

Fríndel

Spain

Cover of Frindle in Spain

Frindela

Basque

Cover of Frindle in Basque

Drilla

Italy

Cover of Frindle in Italy

프린들 주세요

Korea

Cover of Frindle in Korea

Fríndel

Portugal

Cover of Frindle in Portugal

Povestea frindelului

Romainia

Cover of Frindle in Romainia

我們叫它粉靈豆-Frindle

Taiwan

Cover of Frindle in Taiwan

Awards and Accolades for Frindle

48 Awards

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