Frindle

by Andrew Clements
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is proof positive that I should not underestimate Andrew Clements or the popularity of a book.  You know how sometimes you just can’t for the life of you figure out why a book is so popular?  This is not one of those times.

Frindle launched a long talk with my coworker who runs the 4th-6th grade book club, since it was one of the few books she took a chance on choosing without reading it first (though I’ve learned that’s the golden rule for being a children’s librarian: never do a storytime or book club with a book you haven’t read first!).  Anyway, the librarian and I talked about what does and does not work in a book club book, especially one where you hope to have a male presence.  There is a definite trend that girls are “allowed” socially to read “boy” books, but boys do not feel as free to read books with a female protagonist.  It goes along with the fact that a girl can be a tomboy and still be heterosexual, but if a boy exhibits the same characteristics of adopting the opposite sex’s cultural territory, well then, he must be homosexual, and therefore must be teased at best, tortured at worst.  This of course leaves aside the idea that kids before a certain age are not even aware of their own sexuality yet… but I digress.

I think what I liked best about this book was the ending, an epilogue, if you will.  (As a friend likes to say, “and I know you will!”)  You get to see how the storyline plays out and get a glimpse into the minds of both Nick as an adult, and his teacher.  I’d be interested to know what our book club kids thought of this adult perspective, so often lacking in kids’ books, and often seemingly unimportant or uninteresting to kids.  I think Frindle has gained popularity for good reason and I almost wish it weren’t so popular just so I could recommend it to kids!

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