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?
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.
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 Arnong 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.
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).
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