By Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick
Published 1998 by Aladdin
Who decides what we should call an object? Like, who decided we were going to call a pen "pen"? This is the lesson that young Nick challenges and, soon, it spins out of control.
As part of my new job (well, actually, it will be my old job since I just got hired for another new job), I wanted to start a book club for tweens. It's been awhile since our library has run one and I love book clubs, so I thought it couldn't hurt to try. The first meeting won't be until March, but this is the book I chose for our first discussion. Surprisingly, I had never read this book before, even though it's been showered with awards and is hugely popular. As a matter of fact, I don't think I'd read anything by Clements before. After finishing this book, I can say that this is pretty much an unforgivable shame. Frindle is an absolutely wonderful book. I was totally hooked and sucked in and devoured it pretty much as fast as I could. Clements is fantastic at creating believable and interesting characters. Additionally, what makes this book supremely awesome is that it packs a lot of punch in a small amount of pages. This book can really lead to some deep questions - and yet, it's just barely 100 pages long. Also, the deep questions are subtle - it never feels like we are being hit over the head with some lesson while reading. The text is accompanied by Selznick's ever-gorgeous illustrations. I think the duo of Clements and Selznick has done a perfect job capturing the elementary school environment in both words and pictures. I really, really hope that I have some kids show up to my book club because I think they'd provide a fascinating discussion. And I absolutely can't wait to read more by Clements in the future. This book proves that I need to read more backlist!