51 pages 1 hour read

Gordon Korman


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2010

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Summary and Study Guide


Framed, originally published in 2010, is the third of eight middle grade mystery books in the Swindle book series written by bestselling author Gordon Korman. Swindle is one of 19 different book series by Korman, who has written more than 100 books and sold over 35 million copies. As with the other novels in the series, the protagonist of Framed is the precocious Griffin Bing, “The Man With The Plan.” In Framed, Griffin is now a 12-year-old seventh grader. Whenever Griffin encounters a challenging mystery, he devises a scheme to discover who the perpetrators are and to right the wrong that has been done. Griffin has a close-knit group of friends, each quirky in distinctive ways, who help him in his detective work. Framed involves a series of Griffin’s plans intended to find the thief who not only stole a valuable Super Bowl ring but also framed Griffin to make him look like the culprit. The harder Griffin and his posse work to uncover the truth, the deeper into trouble Griffin falls. Ultimately, he must rely on the loyalty and cleverness of his friends to restore his confidence, find the ring, and clear his name.

This guide is based on the 2010 Scholastic paperback version of the book.

Plot Summary

Brand new seventh graders at Cedarville Middle School, Griffin and his friends suffer through calisthenics, performed outside in the rain and led by Dr. Egan, the new principal. Griffin has an expensive new retainer that continually pops out of his mouth, especially when his nemesis, Darren Vader, pounds him on the back. Dr. Egan stops Griffin to say he has heard of the bad reputation Griffin and his friends have. Griffin sees a newspaper article written by columnist Celia White criticizing misbehaving youth. He knows the article is about him and his posse.

Dr. Egan tells the school that it has received the gift of a valuable Super Bowl championship ring from Art Blankenship, who attended the school in his youth. As Griffin stands before the trophy case with his friends, looking at the ring, Tony Bartholomew, a relative of Art’s, says the ring should really be his.

Intent on ending the daily calisthenics regimen, Griffin goes to each of his friends with a plan to barrage Dr. Egan with untraceable emails. None of the friends think the plan is a good idea. Savannah tells Griffin a rat is loose in her house. Griffin realizes he has lost his retainer. He enlists the help of Savannah and her Doberman, Luthor, to sniff out the retainer. The dog interrupts a football game. Since Dr. Egan is the football coach, this event hardens his attitude against Griffin.

Arriving at school one morning, they find that the Super Bowl ring is gone. In its place is the retainer with Griffin’s name on it. Dr. Egan accuses Griffin of stealing the ring. Griffin protests his innocence, explaining that he lost the retainer several days before. The principal calls the police.

Detective Sergeant Vizzini comes to Griffin’s house, a location he has been to before. He quizzes Griffin about the retainer in a way that demonstrates he doubts Griffin’s innocence. He says Griffin must appear before a judge for a preliminary hearing. Griffin, his parents, and his attorney meet with Judge Koretsky, who sets a date for another hearing and tells Griffin he must attend the JFK Alternative Education Center (nicknamed “Jail For Kids” [47]).

On his first day at JFK, Griffin encounters a very solidly built seventh grader who snatches away the paper he was using to organize Operation Justice, his plan to figure out who framed him. The boy, Sheldon “Shank” Brickhaus approaches Griffin after class to ask about Operation Justice. Afraid of Shank, Griffin explains nothing. Shank tells Griffin they will be friends.

Griffin gathers his posse after school and explains that Operation Justice will be a sting to lure the actual thief into the open. Their suspects are Dr. Egan, Darren, Tony, and Celia. To each suspect they send an anonymous message offering to buy the ring and asking to meet at a definite time at the courthouse on Friday. To go through the courthouse metal detectors, the thief must reveal possession of the ring. With all members of the posse stationed in different locations to watch, the friends see all four of the suspects show up. Three go through the metal detector without setting off the alarm. The fourth is Dr. Egan who sets off the alarm at the same moment he sees Griffin, and as Judge Koretsky arrives. The judge summons Griffin’s mother, and the three go to her office, where she remands Griffin to house arrest. Banished from speaking with Griffin, the posse meets at lunch in the middle school. They decide they have to do something to help Griffin although he is the one who always makes the plans.

When Griffin arrives home from the alternative school, his mother has to walk him into the house. He thinks his friends have abandoned him. Up in his room, he sees Savannah’s monkey, Cleo, at his window. She hands him a note telling him to come to the basement, where the entire posse climbs in through a window. His friends have devised a plan called Operation Stakeout. They are convinced Dr. Egan, who lives across the street from Savannah, has the ring. The plan is to bug his house and surveil it until they find the evidence they need. Melissa sets up a live stream so Griffin can watch the plan unfold.

When Dr. Egan and his family take a walk, the posse plants cameras and listening devices. Ben has a ferret as a service animal that nips him to wake him when he has a narcolepsy episode. Ben hides in the front porch wood box to watch for the family. When the ferret chases bugs in the wood box, Ben falls asleep, and the Egans return while several posse members are in precarious locations. Savannah gets Luthor to bark, distracting the whole neighborhood so the friends can return to her house. The next day, Logan, trying to ride his scooter with Lindsay, Dr. Egan’s daughter, crashes into a thorn bush. Lindsay takes him to her house to check his cuts and bruises. In the kitchen, Logan sees a jewelry box and believes it must contain the missing ring. He tells Lindsay he will return the next day to help her plant flowers.

The following day, Logan discovers that Dr. Egan is taking the jewelry box to a jewelry store. The entire team starts toward the only jewelry store in Cedarville. Convincing himself they will need his help, Griffin puts on his in-line skates and rushes downtown. Griffin looks through the jewelry store window and sees Dr. Egan open the box. The entire posse looks on as Griffin raises a camera and takes a picture of the open box, which contains an antique gold brooch.

Detective Vizzini returns to Griffin’s house and fits him with a PEMA electronic ankle bracelet. All other members of the posse are also in trouble with their parents but not with the police, who know nothing about the surveillance equipment. Because Griffin has the anklet, the friends decide they must check out the other suspects.

While cleaning up her attic after Operation Stakeout, Savannah notices a small array of shiny objects gathered high on a shelf. Suddenly she realizes what has happened: The rat who had been in her house is a pack rat that she somehow transported to the school. The rat exchanged Griffin’s retainer for the ring and the ring must be somewhere in the middle school. Griffin, skeptical of her explanation, says none of the adults will believe her.

When Shank sees Griffin’s anklet, Griffin tells him the whole story. Shank says that Savannah is right about the pack rat and he can help catch it. Griffin sends Shank to meet Ben, who gathers the posse at Melissa’s house. They plan Operation Dirty Rat, which entails linking Griffin’s anklet to a monitor on his belt so he can escape house arrest. On Wednesday, when Logan stars in Hail Caesar and distracts the whole community, the group will search the middle school for the rat. Griffin tricks his parents into leaving the house so he can gather with the posse.

Initially, the plan works when the team captures the pack rat, then harnesses it and lets it out of the trap to find its nest. Following it through the school, Shank crashes across the stage during the play, alerting those in the auditorium that something is happening. The posse tracks the rat to the basement, where it climbs into a small space in the ceiling, 20 feet above the floor. The friends tie Ben onto a rope harness and lift him to the rafters, where he pulls out the rat with the harness and fishing line attached to it. The rat holds the ring. As Ben descends, Darren and Tony appear. The ring falls to the floor. In the scramble Darren grabs the ring and starts to escape. Dr. Egan appears at the door. He demands that Griffin explain. Celia shows up, immediately castigating the posse, only to have Dr. Egan cut her short and say they owe Griffin an apology.

When Griffin’s anklet shows red, he realizes his parents have come home and reset the monitor. Dr. Egan rushes him home before the police arrive. Dr. Egan shows the ring to the police and Griffin’s parents. The principal apologizes for his treatment of Griffin and the posse and expresses his gratitude.