Allison's Book Bag

Frindle and The Landry News, by Andrew Clements

Posted on: October 21, 2015

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Five of the six books by Andrew Clements that I plan to review this week are related somehow to the world of writing. Incidentally, because I plan to review several books in a short amount of time, my critiques will be shorter than the norm.

First up in my round-up is Frindle, the winner of twenty-two state awards, including the Christopher Award. How does it relate to writing? Frindle stars a teacher who is fanatic about words and a student who tries to invent a new word.

What do I like about Frindle? I feel sympathy for Nick, who didn’t plan to start a fad that would gain statewide attention but instead simply wished to waste enough time in class that there would be no time for assignments. Nick is not a good kid or a bad kid but just a kid with penchant for trouble because of all his creative ideas. The rest of the characters are just as true to life too, in that young people like to make up words, group together, rebel against rules, and follow fads. I can easily believe that Nick’s classmates would agree to stop calling the object we write with a “pen” and instead to start calling it a “frindle”. When their initiative leads to disciplinary action, I can also easily accept that Nick and his classmates would rebel against this perceived unfairness and insist on using their new word to the bitter end. I also enjoyed the portrayal of the fifth-grade teacher, whose love of structure led her to forbid the use of the word “frindle,” despite her being the one who students to fall for words in the first place.

Is there anything I don’t like about Frindle? No, but I will caution that the story requires a suspension of disbelief, in that Nick’s actions not only leads to a revolution in all the local schools but catches the attention of businesses and the media. Also, the resolution doesn’t happen until after Nick graduates, and is fabulous but also larger than life.

THE LANDRY NEWS

Next up in my round-up in The Landry News, also a winner of many awards, as well as being a Golden Sower nominee. How does it relate to writing? The Landry News stars a student who aspires to become a journalist and a teacher who serves as advisor for a class newspaper.

What do I like about The Landry News? I feel sympathy for Cara, who didn’t plan to start a newspaper that would gain district attention but instead simply wished to post an editorial that criticized their teacher for not doing his job. Once again, Clements has a created a main character who is neither good nor bad but just a kid with penchant for trouble because of her outspoken opinions. He has also created classmates who are just as fun to read about, because of their excitement to learn about newspapers and to create their own. In a twist on the norm, however, Clements features a teacher (rather than a student) whose life is changed. Clements being a teacher himself knows how educators can eventually become burned out by apathy, regulations, among other issues. Mr. Larson had once won “Teacher of the Year” three years in row, but then he allowed himself to become the type of instructor who simply sits back and allows his students to fend for themselves with their education. Then along comes Cara, whose editorial inspires him to change. In the end, not only is he changed, but so are his students when the newspaper comes under attack for publishing a true story by a student about how divorce impact him.

Is there anything I don’t like about The Landry News? No, in fact, the book is also enhanced by the overt theme of revealing truth while also showing mercy.

The next two days, I’ll be back with more reviews in my round-up of books by Andrew Clements. Save the dates: October 22-23!

How would you rate these books?

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Almost a year after I announced that it was time to take a step back from this blog, Allison's Book Bag is still here. I'm slowly working back up to weekly reviews again. Each week, there will be one under any of these categories: Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, religious books, or diversity books. Some will come in the form of single reviews and others in the form of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean
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