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  • The Girls Take Over
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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  • The Girls Take Over
  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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Written by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: January 21, 2009
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-307-52858-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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The race is on! The Hatford boys and the Malloy girls are ready to outdo one another again. Eddie is the first girl to ever try out for the school baseball team. Now she and Jake are competing for the same position, while Caroline and Wally compete for class spelling bee champ. Wally is itching to win, but Caroline the show-off plans to be number one.

As if that wasn’t enough, the kids decide to race bottles down the rising Buckman River to see whose will go the farthest by the end of the month. The winner will be queen or king for the day while the other kids act as servants. But neither team trusts the other. When the girls go down to the river to try and capture the boys’ bottles, Caroline falls into the rising water. It looks like those Malloy girls may be in over their heads this time!

From the Hardcover edition.




It was the month Eddie Malloy had been waiting for--tryouts for the Buckman Elementary baseball team--only sixth graders allowed. For Caroline, however, April looked as though it might be the most boring month since they'd moved to Buckman. She didn't care much for sports, but she knew how desperately her oldest sister wanted to get on the team. What Caroline most wanted was for something exciting to happen to her--something so dramatic it would get her picture in the newspaper.

But Eddie was fuming about the rain. "Look at it!" she wailed, staring out at the dismal West Virginia sky. The sun, which took its sweet time rising above the hills each morning, hadn't shown for a week. "I'll bet we won't have tryouts today after all!"

Eddie, Caroline, and Beth were finishing their toast, getting ready to return to school after spring vacation.

"You've got a whole month, Eddie. The games don't begin till May," Beth told her. Beth was in the fifth grade, and Caroline, being precocious, was in fourth, having been moved up a year. "Relax!" Beth said.

"I can't," said Eddie. "This is my one chance to show Jake Hatford that he's not the only good player around."

Mrs. Malloy came into the kitchen in her robe. "Gracious, I overslept!" she said. "It's a good thing you girls got yourselves up. This rain just makes me want to stay in bed. It's a good day for dreaming."

Mr. Malloy followed next and went directly to the coffeemaker. He was singing his usual song, the words being "I hate to get up in the mooorn-ing," and the girls rolled their eyes at each other. He was coaching Buckman College's football team this year in a teacher-exchange program. Whether or not he would move his family back to Ohio in September was still very much up in the air.

"Better wear your yellow slickers," Mrs. Malloy told the girls. "It's supposed to rain all day."

Eddie groaned and looked out the window and down the hill toward the river. The Buckman River, ordinarily shallow, was swollen now by all the rain. It entered town on one side of Island Avenue, where the family was staying, looped around under the road bridge to the business district, and went back out of Buckman again on the other side.

"Well," Eddie said finally. "If I never become a professional baseball player, I guess I'll be a scientist. That's my second choice."

"Good thinking," said her father. "Keep your bases covered." He grinned.

Beth had her nose stuck in a book as usual while she ate, her hand blindly reaching out to feel around the table for her orange juice. She never once took her eyes off the page.

"If she'd only read decent stuff!" her mother had once complained, because the stories Beth liked best were about human centipedes and creatures under the sea. Beth was currently reading a book called The Village of the Vampire Ants. Beth didn't give much thought to what she wanted to be when she was grown.

No one ever asked Caroline what she wanted to be when she grew up because she talked about it constantly: the world's greatest actress, that's what. She could see her name in lights on Broadway: Caroline Lenore Malloy, starring in . . . play after play after play.

As the Malloy girls crossed the swinging bridge that took them to College Avenue, they saw the Hatford boys waiting for them on the other side. Despite all the boys' tricks and teasing since the girls had come to Buckman, the Malloy sisters had started walking to school with them when a strange animal--which the newspaper called an abaguchie because no one knew what it was--had been sighted in the area. It had later been found to be a cougar, and the Hatford and Malloy parents had insisted their seven children walk together to and from school for protection. Now that the cougar had been caught and taken down to the Smoky Mountains, the kids, out of habit, still walked together every day.

The boys weren't exactly waiting patiently for the girls. What they were really doing was standing on the swinging bridge at their end, and as soon as the girls stepped on it, the boys began jumping up and down so that the bridge wiggled and swayed and bounced.

"Ha, ha, we're so scared!" Eddie said dryly.

"Look how high the water is!" Peter called. Peter was in second grade, the youngest of the boys. Wally was next, in fourth grade with Caroline, and the twins, Josh and Jake, were in sixth grade with Eddie. Beth was the only girl who wasn't in a class with a Hatford. Lucky you, Eddie had told her once.

"What's the highest the river's ever been?" Beth asked when the girls reached the other end and they all set off for school.

"It was up over the road in front of our house once," said Wally.

"Did you ever have to be rescued in rowboats or anything?" asked Caroline. She could just see herself, waving a white handkerchief from a window, the water rising to her waist, then her chest, then her throat--how she would faint just as the rescuers reached her and would have to be carried out to the boat.

"No," said Wally. "It was never that high."

Both Eddie and Jake were glum as they headed for school because Jake, too, wanted to try out for the baseball team, and they certainly couldn't do it in the rain. The rest of the crew was in good spirits, however.

"You know what we ought to do?" said Josh. "We each ought to put our name and phone number in a bottle and float them down the river. We could ask the people who find them to call and tell us where they were found, and whoever's bottle travels farthest by the end of the month wins."

"Wins what?" said Wally, who loved fooling around and liked the idea.

"Well, whoever wins could be king or queen for the day," suggested Josh.

"Queen of what?" asked Caroline.

"King or queen of the rest of us. The rest of us would have to be his slaves for a day and do whatever he wanted."

"Oh no you don't!" said Eddie. "If one of you guys wins, you'll make us do all kinds of gross things."

"Okay, they have to be things within reason," said Josh. "And the bottles should all be the same size. Maybe Mom could get some for us."

"Sounds fun!" said Beth.

"We'd better do it while the water's flowing fast, though," said Wally. "The bottles will go farther then."

"They might even get to the ocean!" Peter cried excitedly.

"And then one of them could be picked up by a ship at sea!" Caroline said dreamily. "I could be sitting in a chair at breakfast, calmly eating my cereal, and get a ship-to-shore message from a handsome captain of an ocean liner saying that he was coming to West Virginia to meet the maiden who had put her name in a bottle."

The others laughed.

"Or maybe he'd call to say that as soon as he read the name Caroline Malloy, he threw the bottle back in the ocean and washed his hands with soap and water," Jake teased.

It was hard to concentrate on schoolwork when there were notes to be sealed in bottles, Caroline thought. Her desk was right behind Wally Hatford's, and when she had nothing better to do, she would trace letters or words on Wally's back with the end of her ruler and dot the i's with her pencil. Or she would blow on the back of his neck and whisper romantic words, just to see his ears turn red.

But this morning she was content to stare out the window as rain trickled down the pane, and imagined a lonely aspirin bottle adrift at sea with a tiny piece of paper rolled up inside it. She imagined the handsome sea captain in his blue-and-white uniform bending over the side of the boat to scoop it up, and--


The voice of the teacher suddenly intruded, and Caroline blinked and snapped to attention.

"The answer, please?" said Miss Applebaum.

"The Ohio River?" Caroline said quickly.

"What?" said the teacher as the class turned to stare.

"The . . . the Gulf of Mexico?" Caroline bleated.

"Caroline, we happen to be doing long division, and I assure you that if you divided four thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight by twelve, you would not get the Gulf of Mexico," the teacher said. "Not even the Ohio River."

From the Hardcover edition.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

About Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - The Girls Take Over

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


“This latest lighthearted episode takes the friends-and-enemies fun beyond formula with characters that win and lose and get on with it.”—Booklist

“High jinks and pranks abound, making the story enjoyable for fans of the earlier books and new readers.”—School Library Journal
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Phyllis Naylor offers spirited humor and comedy in these books about the feud between the Hatford brothers and the Molloy sisters.

The novels are episodic, making them perfect choices for independent reading or read-alouds. Even the most reluctant readers will delight in the creative and clever ways the boys and girls plot their revenge.

The discussion questions in this guide encourage students to think about sibling and family relationships, friendship, the meaning of community, and humor. Teachers interested in bringing literature into all areas of the curriculum will find these books a perfect choice for linking language arts, social studies, science, math, and art.

The four Hatford brothers are convinced that their lives in Buckman, West Virginia, will never be the same since their best friends, the Benson boys, moved to Georgia. To make matters worse, a family with three girls, the Malloys, has moved into the Bensons’ old house!

The Hatford brothers have tricks up their sleeves for the Malloy sisters; not to be outwitted, the Malloys pay back in good fun.

In The Boys Start the War, the Hatford boys decide to make the Malloy girls so miserable that they will beg their parents to move back to Ohio. But the sisters are not so easily intimidated. They show their ingenuity and fighting spirit in The Girls Get Even.

The war between the Hatfords and the Malloys escalates in Boys Against Girls and The Girls’ Revenge. In A Traitor Among the Boys, the children are almost resigned to being neighbors. Though still full of tricks, the boys comfort the girls when Mrs. Malloy becomes lost on a mountain road during a blizzard.



Ask students who have had to move at some point in their lives to share what it was like to be the new kid on the block. Engage the class in a discussion of how neighbors can welcome a new family into the community. What can students do to make newcomers at their school feel welcome?


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?

In The Girls Take Over, Wally is described as being a loner. How does this characteristic affect his relationship with his brothers? Wally’s mother seems to expect him to do things that she doesn’t expect his brothers to do. Discuss why he is the one his mother places in charge of the yard sale in Boys in Control.

Engage students in a discussion about Eddie’s role in her family. Why do her parents hold her responsible when the Malloy girls get in trouble? How is this especially evident in The Girls Take Over?

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?

In The Girls Take Over, the Malloys and the Hatfords engage in three different competitions. The Hatford boys say that they must stay on friendly terms with the girls so as not to appear jealous. Discuss how jealousy shapes the friendship of the boys and the girls. How would their relationship be different without jealousy and rivalry? How does baseball strengthen the relationship between the Malloys and the Hatfords?

The girls find a way to embarrass the boys in Boys in Control. How does their scheme backfire on them? Discuss how the boys and the girls come to a mutual understanding at the end of the novel.

GROWING UP–While it appears that the Malloys and Hatfords are growing up, they still do silly things and make immature decisions. How does the bottle race in The Girls Take Over prove this?

Caroline makes a really bad decision at the spelling bee in The Girls Take Over. Discuss what Caroline learns from her actions and whether this experience helps her grow up.

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.

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?

In The Girls Take Over, the Hatfords and the Malloys get in trouble when Caroline falls into the river. They must clean the police station for their punishment. Discuss why the sergeant places Jake in charge of the group. How do the Malloy girls turn this punishment into further rivalry? Debate whether community service should be punishment or strictly volunteer work.


–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 10 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 the author was planning to write another story in this series?

In The Girls Take Over, the newspaper runs a story about “the dramatic rescue of Caroline Malloy.” (p. 52) Ask students to write that story.

–In A Traitor Among the Boys, the town of Buckman is about to celebrate its 200th 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.

In Boys in Control, a pair of bloomers that belonged to Amelia Bloomer are found in a frame at the yard sale that Mrs. Hatford is running for the Women’s Auxiliary of the Buckman Fire Department. Ask students to research Amelia Bloomer and draw a picture of the bloomers that she designed. Have them investigate her relationship to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Divide the class into small groups and ask them to write and perform a cheer for the Buckman Badgers baseball team.

–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 20th 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.

In The Girls Take Over, Peter Hatford gets the chicken pox. Ask students to research the disease and make a pamphlet that might be distributed at Peter’s school to inform parents about chicken pox. Information should include: symptoms, treatment, incubation period, etc. Ask students to consider what constitutes an epidemic.

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 can 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 the “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.


The vocabulary in these books isn't very difficult, but students may find some unfamiliar words that they should try to define using the clues from the context of the stories. Such words may include:
The Boys Start the War: vaporize (p. 7), humiliation (p.36), cordial (p. 45), and hostage (p. 119).
The Girls Get Even: debut (p. 3), grievance (p. 12), gullible (p. 44), coup (p. 39), and truce (p. 127).
Boys Against Girls: unnaturally (p. 15), intercept (p. 95), and dismay (p. 122).
The Girls' Revenge: precocious (p. 1), fiasco (p. 98), swagger (p. 98), and exasperation (p. 145).
A Traitor Among the Boys: loophole (p. 51), humility (p. 73), and treacherous (p. 113).
Boys in Control:
braying (p. 49) and deliberately (p. 82).
The Girls Take Over: adrift (p. 6), warrant (p. 75), and visualize (p. 89).


HC: 0-385-73139-6
GLB: 0-385-90170-4
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

HC: 0-385-32740-4
GLB: 0-385-90154-2
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

TP: 0-440-41678-7
HC: 0-385-32738-2
GLB: 0-385-90059-7
Dell Yearling / Delacorte Books for Young Readers

TP: 0-440-41841-0
Dell Yearling

TP: 0-440-41842-9
Dell Yearling

TP: 0-440-41390-7
Dell Yearling

TP: 0-440-41675-2
HC: 0-385-32737-4
Dell Yearling / Delacorte Books for Young Readers

TP: 0-440-41386-9
Dell Yearling

TP: 0-440-41383-4
Dell Yearling

TP: 0-440-41123-8
Dell Yearling


Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina.

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