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  • A Spy Among the Girls
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780440413905
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  • A Spy Among the Girls
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307547422
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Written by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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List Price: $5.99

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On Sale: December 24, 2008
Pages: 144 | ISBN: 978-0-307-54742-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Valentine’s Day is coming up and love is in the air between Beth Malloy and Josh Hatford. When they are spotted holding hands, Josh tells his teasing brothers that he’s simply spying on the girls to see what they’re plotting next. When Caroline Malloy decides she must know what it’s like to fall in love, too, poor Wally Hatford is in for it!

Meanwhile, big sister Eddie couldn’t care less about that mushy stuff. All she cares about is her sixth-grade science fair project. But when she comes up with a great plan, Josh and Jake Hatford horn in on her project. On the day the plan goes into action, little do the boys know that Eddie has a trick up her sleeve. And with daredevil Caroline’s amazing attention-getting stunt, trouble is sure to follow. Get ready, the Malloys and Hatfords are at it again!

Excerpt

One

Violins

Beth was in love, and it was positively sickening, Caroline thought.

Beth drew little hearts on the corners of her notebook, with the initials B plus J. She lingered at the end of the footbridge each morning on the way to school, hoping that the Hatford boys would be leaving about the same time and she could walk to school with Josh. Worst of all, Beth acted as though she'd rather be with Josh Hatford than with her own sisters.

Caroline, age nine, was the youngest of Coach Malloy's three daughters. Eddie, the oldest, couldn't be bothered. At eleven, all she wanted was, number one, to think up a really good experiment for the sixth-grade science fair, and number two, to make the Buckman Elementary baseball team when tryouts were held the following month. If Beth, a year younger, wanted to act like a lovesick idiot, that was her problem.

"But, Eddie, it ruins everything! We were having such a wonderful time annoying the guys! We weren't supposed to fall in love with them!" Caroline protested as they ate their cereal and watched the sun trying to rise in a gray February sky.

Fog cut the West Virginia hills around Buckman in half, hiding the tops completely. It covered sections of the valley as well. From the kitchen window, the girls could see the swinging footbridge over the Buckman River, but they couldn't see the Hatfords' house on the other side.

"What do you mean, 'we'? I haven't fallen in love with anyone," Eddie told her, shaking the last of the Cheerios into her bowl.

"Good!" said their father, who had coached the college football team the previous fall and helped it make the playoffs. Now he was teaching chemistry. "Because I won't know till summer whether I'm leaving Buckman or staying. And if we move back to Ohio, I don't want a bunch of weeping daughters crying over leaving their boyfriends."

"Ha!" said Eddie. "Not on your life!"

Beth entered the kitchen at that moment. She had pulled her blond hair up on either side of her head, fashioned the top into curls, and fastened it using a large comb with daisies.

"Oh, brother!" Eddie said when she saw her. "Who are you supposed to be? Miss America?"

"Eddie, don't make fun of your sister," Mrs. Malloy said sharply as she set a plate of toast on the table. "Beth spent a lot of time on her hair, and I think she looks lovely."

"All for Josh," Caroline remarked.

"Pardon me while I gag," said Eddie.

"For your information, I just wanted a new look," Beth said, avoiding their eyes and quickly reaching for the butter.

"Yeah, a new look in nail polish too," Caroline said, grabbing one of Beth's hands to look at her nails, which Beth had painted purple to match her sweater. Each nail had a little J painted on it with sparkling silver.

"That's enough!" said Mrs. Malloy. "Everyone's entitled to a little privacy. Caroline, finish your toast, please."

All because Beth and Josh were in that play together where they had to hold hands! Caroline thought later as she brushed her teeth. But she had to admit what was really bothering her. It wasn't that Beth liked Josh Hatford. Of the four Hatford brothers--Jake, Josh, Wally, and Peter--Josh was one of the nicest. It was the fact that by falling in love, Beth, not Caroline, was in the spotlight these days, and Caroline herself was used to being the center of attention.

If she were falling in love, she would make up a whole story to go with it. She would act out her own scenes, write her own love letters, and have secret meetings with her beloved down by the footbridge. Since she wanted to be a Broadway actress, she needed all the life experiences she could get, and falling in love was one of them. Beth's falling in love didn't count.

When it was time to leave for school, Caroline and Eddie left together because, these days, Beth always found excuses to lag behind. The Buckman River flowed into town on one side of Island Avenue, looped around the end, and came flowing back on the other side. A road bridge connected the end of Island Avenue to the business district, but a swinging footbridge on one side provided a shortcut for the girls to College Avenue and to Buckman Elementary.

This morning, as Caroline and Eddie were crossing the footbridge, looking down on the river's patches of ice heaped with snow like meringue on a pudding, they saw the Hatford boys already leaving their house, heading up the street toward school.

Eddie snickered. "Won't that put Beth in a snit," she said. "She purposely dawdled just so she could walk to school with Josh, and Josh started off early without her."

But Jake, Josh's twin, was first in line, plodding through the snow with seven-year-old Peter at his heels. Behind him came Wally, and Josh seemed to be hanging back. Every now and then he glanced over toward the Malloys' house, then quickly faced forward again.

In the next instant Beth's footsteps came tripping over the boards of the footbridge behind Caroline.

"Excuse me," Beth said, hurrying past, and caught up with Josh on the sidewalk, where he was pretending to tie his boot.

Caroline stopped walking and surveyed them from the bridge, hands on her hips.

"They aren't any good at all at falling in love," she declared. "When you fall in love, violins are supposed to play and bells are supposed to ring. A girl is supposed to rush across a bridge and into the arms of her boyfriend. She's not supposed to pretend she just happened to meet up with him, and he's not supposed to pretend he stopped to tie his boot."

"I wouldn't know," said Eddie. "And the last thing I want making noise around me is violins."

But following along behind Beth and Josh, seeing how the sleeves of their jackets hardly even touched, much less their hands, Caroline made a decision: if she was ever going to know what it felt like to fall in love, she'd have to do it herself--so if she was ever asked to play the part of a woman in love, she could do it from the heart.

She would simply have to choose a boy and fall in love with him, and since the only boy who sat close to her in school was Wally Hatford--who sat directly in front of her, in fact--Wally Hatford it would be.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

About Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - A Spy Among the Girls

Photo © Patrice Gilbert Photography

“Through my books I can be many different people, living in many different places, and doing all kinds of interesting things. I can recapture feelings from childhood or project myself into the future. Or I can take a real problem I may be experiencing and work it out on paper. Writing, for me, is the best occupation I can think of and there is nothing in the world I would rather do.”—Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books. Her work has been honored by the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, and the Children’s Book Council.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Newbery Medalist Phyllis Reynolds Naylor grew up in Anderson, Indiana, and Joliet, Illinois. She loved to make up stories and write little books when she was growing up, and sold her first story when she was 16 for $4.67.

Naylor worked as a teacher and an editor before she began to write full-time in 1960. She sold her first book for children in 1965.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband, Rex who is a speech pathologist. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.

“I think I wanted to be a writer because my parents read aloud to us every night until we were about 15 years old. They read Grimm’s fairy tales, the Bible storybook, all of Mark Twain’s books, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows—and I think I probably felt that if listening to stories was so much fun, writing them would be even better. And it is. I love being involved in the characters and plot and just the whole mess of writing, it’s such a wonderful mess to me.

“I would like readers to develop more tolerance for people who are different, for ideas that are different, to come to realize that sometimes there isn’t just one right way to do something. People see different possibilities in a situation, and the solutions they come up with may be very different.”

About Her Books

“It was fun for me to do the Boy-Girl Battle Books series. I think I enjoyed them as much as the kids, and according to the stacks of letters I received, they liked them a lot. The idea for the series came to me when I was speaking at a school, and as the kids filed noisily into the gym, one teacher yelled, ‘If you don’t settle down, I’m going to seat you boy/girl/boy/girl.’ The gym was so quiet you could hear nothing but breathing. ‘Aha!’ I thought. The universal theme! The antagonism between boys and girls, ages 9 to 12. In one chapter, the girls may be one up on the boys; in the next, the boys may have the upper hand. There are twelve books in all, ending with Who Won the War.
I also enjoyed writing Faith, Hope and Ivy June. I think most girls have secrets, and Ivy June and Catherine are no exception. I loved researching the Kentucky setting for this book, and comparing the life styles of these girls--one in the city, the other in the mountains.”


AUTHOR FUN FACTS

Born: January 4, in Anderson, Indiana
Previous jobs: Third Grade Teacher, Editorial Assistant, Playground Supervisor
Hobbies: Snorkeling, Swimming, Piano, Theater, Reading
Favorite books: All kinds—scary, funny, serious. Mark Twain was her childhood favorite.
Favorite foods: Chocolate, Pizza
Favorite clothes to wear: Comfortable, colorful shirts and jeans
Favorite colors: Green and blue


PRAISE

THE GRAND ESCAPE

—Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List


ONE OF THE THIRD GRADE THONKERS

—A Child Study Association Children’s Book of the Year

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