Nick is one of Mrs. Granger’s more difficult students in seventh grade language arts class. He’s smart and creative but he gets into trouble in class. One important event occurs when Nick disrupts class and asks his teacher a question about the names of the words in the dictionary. Mrs. Granger then assigns him an oral report on the exact subject, which Nick makes extra long to take up most of the class period.
By this time, Mrs. Granger is frustrated with Nick’s consistent troublemaking behavior. The second event, or rebellious act by Nick, occurs when Nick asks Mrs. Granger a question about who decides what words mean. Mrs. Granger replies that people make these decisions.
The third event occurs when Nick and his friend, Janet miss their bus because they had a school meeting. On their way home, Janet finds a gold ballpoint pen. Suddenly, Nick calls it a "frindle." When he gets to class, Nick introduces the new word to Mrs. Granger and the other students by making a big deal of looking for a pen, or frindle, in class. One of the students finds one and throws it to Nick.
Nick starts a campaign to advertise for frindles. He gets help from friends and classmates to make the word frindle more popular. They ask for pens, or frindles, at stores. Although Mrs. Granger imposes a penalty of staying after school for students using the new word, more students choose to incorporate the word frindle and stay after school. The fact that Mrs. Granger opposes the use of the new word only helps the marketing for Nick’s new word. After Nick gets a big break with newspaper and television reporting, his frindle idea is a big hit and he becomes famous.