Frindle Questions and Answers
by Andrew Clements

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How did Mrs. Granger react to Nick's question about the origin of the words in the dictionary?

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Megan Miller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Chapter three of Frindle is appropriately titled "The Question." One of Nick's many tactics for getting out of work is called the "teach stopper" or the "guaranteed-time-waster." He waits until the end of the period, when it is time for the teacher to assign homework, and then causes a distraction by asking a "thought grenade" question. This sidetracks the teacher, as it needs a long and thoughtful answer and is designed so the period ends while the teacher is answering and before homework can be assigned.

Nicks "thought grenade" for Mrs. Granger is:

"Mrs. Granger, you have so many dictionaries . . . where did all those words come from?"

Mrs. Granger can see what Nick is up to, and her reaction is a smart way to turn the tables on this troublesome student. She responds:

“Why, what an interesting question, Nicholas. I could talk about that for hours, I bet.”

She then asks the other students if they would be interested in hearing a response. The students, thinking they will get a lengthy answer out her, say they want to know the answer. But instead of answering, Mrs. Granger assigns Nick an oral report on the topic, to be delivered the next day. She also is sure to give out the regular homework assignment to the whole class. Not only has Nick's plan failed at delaying the homework assignment, but now he has an extra assignment on top of that!

Nick asks another question in chapter five while giving his oral report:

"Who says that d-o-g means the thing that goes ‘woof’ and wags its tail? Who says so?"

Mrs. Granger answers:

“Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas. You and me and everyone.”

This reaction is important because it sparks the creation of "frindle."

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Dorothea Tolbert eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick Allen is an expert at asking teachers unnecessary questions in order to waste time.  In fact, he is known at school for doing this.  On the first day in Mrs. Granger's fifth grade class, Nick asks his dictionary-loving teacher where all the words in the dictionary come from.  He asks this question in order to waste class time.  Mrs. Granger immediately see the purpose of Nick's question.  Instead of answering his question, she tells him that she could talk about the origin of words in the dictionary for hours.  Then she proceeds to assign him an oral report, which he is to give in class the next day.  She explains that he will have to do research on the question he asked in order to share the information with the rest of his class.  She smiles at Nick and then continues teaching her lesson.  Nick realizes that what he had heard was true: Mrs. Granger is tough.

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