Bright Ideas Unit 7
After his report, Nick walks home with his friend Janet Fisk. They find an expensive pen on the floor.
As they play and walk down the street, Nick thinks about what Mrs. Granger said about words. Mrs. Granger said that he, Nick, decides what words mean. Nick tries to understand that. He thinks back to when he was little, before he really knew how to talk. He used to point to a tape recorder and say “gwagala” when he wanted his parents or brother to listen to music. He called music "gwagala" until he got to preschool and realized that he had to use the word "music" if he wanted teachers or the other kids to understand. "Gwagala" was a word Nick made up, but it had meaning for him and his family.
After school the next day, Nick goes to the store and asks for a frindle. The lady at the counter has no idea what Nick means, but he points to a shelf full of ball-point pens, and then she understands. Nick pays for the pen and leaves.
Then, Nick sends a different kid to the same store every day to ask for a frindle. Janet is the last kid to go, and when she asks for a frindle, the store lady reaches straight for the pens.
Nick and his friends sign an oath:
From this day on and forever, I will never use the word PEN again. Instead, I will use the word FRINDLE, and I will do everything possible so others will, too.
Nick is excited about his new word. He is ready to take his plan to the next level by convincing more kids to say "frindle" instead of "pen." He knows exactly where and how he wants to get more attention for his new word.
In Mrs. Granger’s class, Nick raises his hand. “Mrs. Granger, I forgot my frindle,” he says. Before Mrs. Granger answers, Nick’s friend John jumps in to say he has an extra one Nick can borrow. John looks inside his backpack. When he finds a pen, he makes sure everyone in the class sees him giving it to Nick.
They make a show, and everybody in the class knows that Nick and John are using a funny new word, and they also know exactly what the word means. At first the kids laugh, but Mrs. Granger looks at everyone in the room until everyone is silent.
At the end of the class period, Mrs. Granger calls out to Nick. “I’d like to have a word with you,” she says.
Mrs. Granger looks at Nick. “It’s a funny idea, Nicholas, but I will not have my class disrupted again. Is that clear?” she says. He pretends he has no idea what is upsetting Mrs. Granger. “But I really didn’t have a frindle with me,” he says. Mrs. Granger looks angry. She quietly sends Nick home. On the way out the door, Nick turns back and says, “And I promise I won’t ever forget my frindle again. Bye.”
On school picture day, Nick and his friends have another plan. The photographer lines up the class for a group photo. He tells everyone to say "cheeeeeeese", but nobody does. Instead, they say, “Frindle!” They all hold frindles. All the teachers are angry about it, especially Mrs. Granger.
The next day, Mrs. Granger puts a note on the bulletin board:
Anyone who is heard using the word frindle instead of the word “pen” will stay after school and write this sentence one hundred times: I am writing this punishment with a pen.
The kids think using Nick’s word is fun, and Mrs. Granger’s note just makes them want to use it more.
One day, Mrs. Granger tells Nick to come see her after school, just to talk.
Mrs. Granger asks Nickto stop immediatly. Nick explains that he is not trying to do anything bad, but that he thinks saying "frindle" is fun. He points out that Mrs. Granger was the one who said words change because people decide to change them.
Mrs. Granger says that this is true, but she still does not think pen should be replaced by a silly and useless word like "frindle." She tells Nick about word histories and explains that "pen" comes from the Latin word "pinna."
Nick does not back down. “But frindle makes just as much sense to me,” he says.
Mrs. Granger, seeing that Nick is not going to stop, tells him she has written a letter to him but she is not going to give it to him until he stops. She asks him to write the date and his name on it and lets him go.