Nick does his vocabulary homework and learns about dictionaries. He decides to give Mrs. Granger an interesting report on where words come from.
Chapter 4 of Frindle is titled “Word Detective” because Nick has become interested in the dictionary since Mrs. Granger has given him the assignment of researching where words come from. He intended to use the question as a distraction so she would not give him homework, but instead he ended up with an extra assignment.
It is September, and school has started. In Nick’s house, his parents have a rule: Homework First. This means that they have to do their homework before anything else.
This had never bothered Nick before, because he hardly ever had homework. (ch 3, p. 19)
Nick does not appreciate the new red dictionary his mom bought because his teacher Mrs. Granger told her he’d need it. It takes almost an hour to look up the words in the dictionary for homework, and then he has to do the report on where words come from. He reads the dictionary and does not understand what the introduction “Words and their Origins” means. He says it is “like trying to read the ingredients on a shampoo bottle” (p. 20).
Nick looks through the encyclopedia and reads all about dictionaries, even though it is boring. Nick decides to use the report as a way to get back at Mrs. Granger.
Nick decided that giving this report could actually be fun. He could make it into something special. After all, Mrs. Granger had asked for it. (p. 21)
Nick’s exploration of the dictionary gives him the idea to make up his own word. When he begins calling a pen a “frindle” the story gets very interesting.