, an excellent children's book by Andrew Clements
, illustrated by Brian Selznick
. Winner of the Christopher Award
. Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster, 1996. ISBN 0-689-81876-9.
(2) A neologism meaning 'pen' coined by Nick Allen, hero of Frindle
Young Nick has perfected a method to avoid homework: ask a complex question near the end of the period to try to distract the teacher so that she will forget to assign it. When he enters fifth grade, he tries it on his new teacher, Mrs. Granger. His question is where do words come from?
Mrs. Granger, who loves dictionaries, turns the tables on Nick and assigns him to do a special report on this topic. Nick does a good job on the report in spite of himself. Mrs. Granger approves, and talks to the class about "Who says dog means dog?", instead of chien for example. Her point is that language is consensual.
After class, Nick has a brainstorm. He picks up a pen, shows it to his friends, and calls it a frindle. They don't get it. Nick perseveres and soon his friends are imitating him and saying frindle instead of 'pen'.
They do it in Mrs. Granger's class, which infuriates her, because she thinks dictionaries should be the final authorities about meanings.
The rest of the book is the comedy about how the frindle meme spread (although it does not use the word meme). Hilarious! Two thumbs up!