ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
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 Shiloh.
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.
SOCIAL STUDIES/DRAMA—In A Traitor Among
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
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
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
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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