Ten-year-old Nick Allen has a reputation for devising clever, time-wasting schemes guaranteed to distract even the most conscientious teacher. His diversions backfire in Mrs. Granger's fifth-grade class, however, resulting in Nick being assigned an extra report on how new entries are added to the dictionary. Surprisingly, the research provides Nick with his best idea ever, and he decides to coin his own new word. Mrs. Granger has a passion for vocabulary, but Nick's (and soon the rest of the school's) insistence on referring to pens as "frindles" annoys her greatly. The war of words escalates--resulting in after-school punishments, a home visit from the principal, national publicity, and economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs. This is a story in which the power of language triumphs.