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  • The Boys Start the War
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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  • The Boys Start the War
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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List Price: $6.99


On Sale: December 30, 2008
Pages: 144 | ISBN: 978-0-307-51485-1
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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It's the summer holidays--time for camping, fishing or just lazing, until girls move in next door. That means war, but the girls know how to fight back. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the winner of the Newbery Medal.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

About Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - The Boys Start the War

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.


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.”


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



—Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List


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


WINNER 1996 Massachusetts Children's Book Award
WINNER 1996 Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award
WINNER Nevada Young Readers Award
WINNER 1996 West Virginia Children's Book Award
WINNER 1995 North Carolina Children's Book Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Phyllis Reynolds Naylor knew at a very early age that she wanted to be a
writer. She began her career writing short stories for magazines and has
since authored more than ninety books for children. Mrs. Naylor sets
many of her books in West Virginia. The boys-girls battle series is set in
Buckman, West Virginia, a town modeled after Buckhannon, West
Virginia, where her husband spent most of his growing-up years. Mrs.
Naylor has enjoyed accolades from young readers all across the country, and
she has won numerous awards. She was honored with the Newbery Medal
for her novel


LANGUAGE ARTS—In The Boys Start the War, the
Hatford boys describe the Malloy girls as “three live
wires.” (p. 43) Ask students to choose a word or
phrase that describes the Hatford boys. Then have
students use a thesaurus to locate at least ten
additional adjectives that would aptly describe these
boys and the Malloy girls.
The boys and the girls have become somewhat
friendly in A Traitor Among the Boys. What evidence
is there at the end of the novel that Mrs. Naylor may
be planning another story in this series? Ask
students to write a beginning for the next book
about the Hatfords and the Malloys.

the Boys, the town of Buckman is about to celebrate
its two hundredth anniversary by having the
Buckman Community Players present a play about
the history of the town. Ask students to research the
history of their city or town from its early beginnings
to the present. Then divide the class into four groups
and assign each group a period in the town’s history
to present as a one-act play. Have students wear
authentic dress.

SCIENCE—In The Boys Start the War, each student
in Mrs. Applebaum’s class writes a paragraph about
the world’s greatest invention. Ask students to
research inventions of the twentieth century. Then
have each student select and write about the
invention they think has made the greatest
contribution to society.
There is a blizzard in A Traitor Among the Boys. Have
the class discuss the hazards of a blizzard. What is
the difference between a storm warning and a storm
watch? Ask students to make a list of things that a
family should do to prepare for a blizzard.

MATH—In The Girls’ Revenge, the Malloy girls have
to pay their dad $175 for a new sports coat. If each
girl is responsible for paying one-third of the cost of
the coat, how much money must each earn? List the
different jobs that the girls do. How much money per
hour can they expect to earn? Calculate how long it
will take the sisters to pay their dad.

ART—In Boys Against Girls, Wally Hatford tells the
Malloy girls that an unknown creature called
Abaguchie has been spotted in Buckman. Have
students draw a picture of the creature that Wally,
the artist among the Hatford boys, might have drawn
and shown to the girls.


SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS—Ask students to describe the Hatford boys’
relationship with one another. Which boy appears to be the leader? What
is Peter’s role in the war against the girls? How does he sometimes make
trouble for his brothers? Describe the Malloy sisters and discuss their
similarities and differences.
In The Boys Against the Girls, Eddie shows signs of growing up and
appears to be feeling too mature to engage in activities with her two
younger sisters. How are these feelings normal for a girl Eddie’s age? In
A Traitor Among the Boys, Mrs. Hatford tells her sons that they are to treat
the Malloy girls like sisters. Discuss what Mrs. Hatford means. How does
this demand provide a loophole for the boys to continue tormenting
the girls?

FRIENDSHIP—Ask students to discuss whether the Hatford boys would
have missed the Bensons as much if a family with boys had moved into
the Benson house. The Hatford boys never give the Malloy girls a chance
to be friendly. In A Traitor Among the Boys, Mrs. Hatford tells the boys,
“You are going to be helpful, polite, friendly, and whatever else I can think
of for as long as they live in our town.” (p. 5) How do the boys finally show
friendship toward the girls?

SENSE OF COMMUNITY—In The Girls Get Even, Mrs. Malloy says,
“There is such a wonderful sense of community here.” (p. 11) Would the
Malloy sisters agree with their mother? Have the class talk about the
meaning of community. Cite evidence in each of the novels that Buckman
is a close-knit community. What role does this strong sense of community
have in revealing the pranks played by the Hatford boys and the
Malloy girls?

HUMOR—Ask students to share what they feel are the most humorous
scenes in the novels. There are gross scenes, embarrassing moments,
and clever dialogue in all of the books. How does each of these elements
contribute to the humor in the novel? Eddie says in The Girls’ Revenge,
“These pranks are getting a little stale.” (p. 3) Discuss whether Eddie is
losing her sense of humor or just maturing.

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