Author: Andrew Clements
Release Date: 1996
Genre: children's fiction, school, friendship
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: children's fiction
Age Group: 8+
Awards: 2016 Phoenix Award
Nick isn't a trouble maker. He just has good ideas. He's also a pro at the teacher-stopper question, that question asked right between the end of the lesson and the giving of the homework.
So when he tries this on the notorious 5th grade English teacher Mrs. Granger, he's expecting success.
No such luck. Nick ends up giving a lengthy report on the creation of dictionaries. But this report isn't a waste of time. He learns something about words and where they come from.
Then, he launches an experiment of his own. What does it take to make a word?
Word of Warning
Little to be concerned about here except perhaps the stubbornness of all involved. Nick ends up waging "war" with Mrs. Granger over the word, and various students join in his rebellion. They keep using the new word despite orders not to, and end up serving many after school detentions.
It is explained multiple times that Nick doesn't intend to cause trouble, he just wants to see if he can create a new word. He is a respectful boy even during his "war" with Mrs. Granger, and as we see later in the book, Mrs. Granger was well aware of that.
For a teacher, at first this book is a little sad. Mrs. Granger tries to squash the good ideas of Nick Allen. But Nick Allen is trying to hijack Mrs. Granger's lesson time. So maybe she's justified?
Then things become more intense, until you reach the end of the book and realize the truth: Mrs. Granger, like all good teachers, helped Nick. Not only did she teach him a valuable lesson about words, society, and what one person can do, but she believed in him enough to wage war with him.
Then we learn the power of words, and how even though the world will continue to change around us, the power of words will never go away.
And as a teacher who has encountered many Nick's, and a writer who believes in the power of words, well, this simple little romp of a book made my heart melt.
Short, sweet, and truthful. This one isn't worth missing.