Frindle: 6. Ten-year-old Nick Allen has a reputation for devising clever, time-wasting schemes guaranteed to distract even the most conscientious teacher. His diversions backfire in Mrs. Granger's fifth-grade class, however, resulting in Nick being assigned an extra report on how new entries are added to the dictionary. Surprisingly, the research provides Nick with his best idea ever, and he decides to coin his own new word. Mrs. Granger has a passion for vocabulary, but Nick's (and soon the rest of the school's) insistence on referring to pens as "frindles" annoys her greatly. The war of words escalates--resulting in after-school punishments, a home visit from the principal, national publicity, economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs, and, eventually, inclusion of frindle in the dictionary. Slightly reminiscent of Avi's Nothing but the Truth (1991), this is a kinder, gentler story in which the two sides eventually come to a private meeting of the minds and the power of language triumphs over both. Sure to be popular with a wide range of readers, this will make a great read-aloud as well. Kay Weisman.
From School Library Journal:
The Landry News: Mr. Larson has taught for 20 years and he's burned out. His idea of the open-classroom method is to start his fifth graders on a project and then sit back and relax with coffee and a newspaper. So when Cara Landry writes a newspaper with an editorial about the lack of teaching going on in room 145, the former "Teacher of the Year" gets very upset. Realizing that the girl is stating the truth, he starts a unit on journalism and the class enthusiastically begins a newspaper. With Cara as editor, the project blossoms. However, when she allows a very personal and poignant story on divorce to be printed, the principal sees it as an opportunity to get rid of Mr. Larson. The teacher then uses the proceedings as a real-life lesson on the First Amendment. The children rally to his support, as does the faculty, and at a public hearing he is vindicated. With chapter headings reading like headlines, the plot moves quickly. Bits of humor lighten the theme of "Truth with Mercy." The author has created believable characters, from the beleaguered Mr. Larson to the intelligent and thoughtful Cara. Readers will cheer for both of them as they move toward the satisfying conclusion.
Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX.
From Amazon.com review:
The Janitor's Boy: Fifth-grader Jack Rankin's father is the janitor of the junior-high school. That wouldn't be so bad if nobody knew about it. But on October 5, disaster strikes when Lenny Trumbull throws up his cafeteria ravioli: Jack's dad appears on the scene with a mop and says, "Hi, son." Jack loves his father and is proud of him, but he knows a giant letter L for loser has just been branded on his forehead. To make matters worse, Jack, furious when the inevitable stream of ridicule begins, blindly crashes into his bucket-bearing dad in the hallway, unleashing laughter, clapping, and plenty of water all around. Jack's anger is now a firestorm, and as author Andrew Clements so vividly phrases it: "The sizzling chunks of Jack's burning rage stuck to his father--like gobs of well-chewed watermelon bubble gum."
Jack's fury manifests itself into the perfect crime--a carefully premeditated, 13-piece Bubblicious attack on an innocent music-room chair that results in a sticky, gooey, smelly web that only a janitor would have the skills to remove. The "sweet smell of victory" diffuses quickly, however, when Jack is condemned to after-school gum-removal duty for the next three weeks. Stickier still is how this is going to play out at home with his mom and dad.
The after-school hours Jack spends scraping gum off furniture prove to be eye-opening. He develops a scholarly interest in gum excavation, and has plenty of time to make a list of ways he is not like his dad the janitor. But one day--first in a forgotten underground tunnel and then on a long truck-ride home--he discovers that there is more to his good-hearted, strong, unassuming father than he had ever even thought to imagine. Clements, a former public-school teacher and author of the bestselling Frindle and The Landry News, has a knack for getting to the heart of things while keeping the story buoyant. Readers of all ages will think twice about what kind of people (outside of their parental or occupational roles) their own parents might be. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson