Frindle is set in Westfield, New Hampshire. The geographical setting only affects the action occasionally but sometimes in unusal ways. For example, the New Hampshire winters spark Nick's first creative rebellion. He makes his third-grade class into a tropical island. Socially, the setting of Westfield matters for a few reasons. First, it is clearly a small town. The kids walk to school, Nick can hear voices he knows playing outside when he is stuck inside studying, and there is just the one school mentioned. Second, Westfield has its own coherent traditions. For example, brother after brother, and even generation after generation, have faced Mrs. Granger, and have been challenged by her rigorous standards. What is more, almost everyone knows everyone else's business. This is what allows the story of the frindle to travel so quickly and explains why the principal and school superintendent become so concerned about the controversy. Finally, geography matters because although it is small, Westfield is connected to other nearby New England towns. The findle story spreads easily to the next town and on to Boston, precisely because of proximity.
Within the larger setting of Westfield, there are a few other minor settings, and one major setting. The Allens' home is not described in detail, but is clearly a comfortable place, one where a family lives, and a family with traditions; you can see this in how Nick has to study just as his older brother did. Another minor setting is the Penny Pantry store, where Nick and his friends first truly test out the use of the name "frindle” to mean pen.
The most specific and detailed setting is Lincoln Elementary School. These details range from what the palm trees were made of during Nick's third-grade adventure to broad organizational details like how many students there are in fifth grade (150) and how old the school building is (six years). Above all, though, Clements pours his attention over the social reality of the school’s hierarchy of meaning and power. This is first emphasized in Chapter Two, when Mrs. Granger is introduced. Clements does not just describe her physically, he describes the meaning of posture, her presentation, her expression, and her classroom presence. This is communicated through the children’s often-exaggerated talk about her as well as the fact that the children change their behavior around her, and in response to her, and most simply through how large Mrs. Granger looms in Nick's thoughts.
However, school is not just the teachers and the building. There is also the support staff, (like Manny the custodian), administrative staff and those in charge, like the principal. Clements makes a point of showing how the students interact with these figures, and how they interact with the larger world, like the taxpaying public. Then, of course, there are the students. The students at Lincoln form a living community, and through inventing "frindle," Nick becomes one of their leaders. He provides them with a distinct identity, and a rallying point. This shows how an individual can contribute to a community, and how a group of people can come together to form a community.
Lodge, Sally. "Andrew Clements. (Spring Attractions)." Publishers Weekly, 249.13...
(The entire section is 770 words.)