Frindle

by

Andrew Clements

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Frindle can help.

Frindle: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At Lincoln Elementary School, Nick Allen is a kid in a category all to himself—he's not an exclusively good kid, bad kid, or smart kid. Instead, he just has a lot of ideas and knows what to do with them all. In third grade, for instance, he turned Miss Deaver's room into a tropical island. He first encouraged his classmates to make palm trees out of construction paper, then coordinated a dress-up day in which the kids all wore tropical outfits. Miss Deaver thought all of this was fantastic. Then, Nick turned up the thermostat, sprinkled sand on the floor, and the kids kicked off their shoes. The principal found Miss Deaver teaching kids to hula while others played volleyball.
These early accounts of Nick's escapades show that he begins the novel with a firm grasp of how to manipulate the power structure at school and how to bring others in to help him. Here, he uses Miss Deaver's status as a first-year teacher to trick her into giving her students way more power than the school wants them to have, and he doesn't do it alone. By working as a group, the kids escape getting in trouble for this, since Miss Deaver should've stopped them to begin with.
Themes
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
A year later, Nick learned that red wing blackbirds make high-pitched noises that confuse birds of prey. The next day, he noticed that his teacher, Mrs. Avery, had a hooked and beak-like nose like a hawk. He began imitating the blackbird noise but Mrs. Avery couldn't identify which student was doing it. She wrongfully accused Janet Fisk but apologized when she realized she’d made a mistake. Nick apologized to Janet at lunchtime and told her about the blackbird noises, which she found very interesting. For the rest of the school year, both she and Nick made the noises at least once per week. Mrs. Avery never figured out who did it.
In this case, though Nick could have gone on acting alone to torment Mrs. Avery, his prank was far more successful when he allowed Janet to help him. By tricking Mrs. Avery like this, Nick again subverts the power structure and subtly shows Mrs. Avery that despite her status as a teacher, the students are still capable of making her life miserable and evading punishment as well.  
Themes
Power, Hierarchy, and Rules Theme Icon
Leadership and Teamwork Theme Icon
Related Quotes