Frindle Questions and Answers
by Andrew Clements

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In Frindle by Andrew Clements, how does Nick's idea backfire on him?  

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Nick's idea to prevent the teacher from assigning homework by asking a question that would get her talking a lot backfires on him when, instead of answering the question, his teacher assigns it to him as a research project for homework.

He'd intended to use his creativity and sneakiness to get no homework at all, but instead, the clever Mrs. Granger turned things around on Nick, who ended up with extra homework.

All this happens in Chapter 3: "The Question." Nick has used this homework-avoiding strategy before. He calls it a "thought grenade" when he asks the teacher some big, open-ended question right before the end of class, one that will excite the teacher into answering it fully and letting the rest of the class period slip by before she can assign homework.

Nick's well-chosen "thought grenade" here was about how all the words in the English language enter the dictionary. Where do words come from? This is basically what he asks Mrs. Granger, his English teacher, a known enthusiast of dictionaries.

Speaking as an English teacher myself, I can tell you, that's a great question, and it would have fooled me: I would have said "Wow, awesome question, Nick! Let me try to explain it..." and then I would have talked nonstop until the bell rang to end class.

However, Mrs. Granger is hard to fool. She sweetly acknowledges Nick's fascinating question, admits that she could take hours to answer it, and asks the rest of the class if they'd like to know the answer. They do. So she tells Nick to research it and prepare to deliver an oral report on the matter to the class. Well played, Mrs. Granger!

Be sure to read through Chapter 5 to see how Nick uses this oral report to get back at her!

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