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  • Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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  • 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: December 18, 2008
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-0-307-54820-7
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
A Traitor Among the Boys Cover

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The Hatford boys' New Year's resolution is "the girls can stay . . . but only if they play by our rules." Their mother insists that they "treat those girls as though they were your sisters." Okay, but somehow the boys' interpretation owes more to sibling rivalry than to brotherly love. The one weak link is young Peter, who doesn't understand the rivalry, openly likes the girls, and sees nothing wrong with sitting in their kitchen eating homemade cookies and answering questions about his brothers' plans. Readers will find themselves laughing out loud at the pranks, the conversations, and one unforgettably embarrassing moment. The high-flying humor is juxtaposed with the budding affection between Josh and Beth and the way all the children pull together during a blizzard. The fifth entry in Naylor's refreshing series chronicling the feud between the Hatfords and the Malloys.

From the Hardcover edition.


New Year's Resolution

Okay, then, it's decided. The girls can stay," Jake said, looking around the breakfast table, where six different boxes of cereal were scattered. "But only," he added, his mouth full of Frosted Flakes, "if they play by our rules."

As though they had anything to do with the Malloys staying in or leaving West Virginia.

The first week of January had passed, and the boys had still not made their New Year's resolutions. Mrs. Hatford had given an order: they were not to leave the kitchen until each had decided how he would improve as a human being in the 365 days ahead. Jake, Josh, Wally, and Peter decided it would be easier to come up with one joint resolution they could all do together: they would let the Malloy girls stay in the house across the river where their best friends, the Bensons--all boys--used to live.

Mrs. Hatford came into the kitchen just then to get the watering can for her fern.

"Well?" she said. "Do I hear four good resolutions in the making?"

"No, but we have one really good one that we'll all do together," said Josh, Jake's eleven-year-old twin.

Their mother looked cautiously about the table. "Okay, I'm listening."

Wally Hatford, age nine, who was sitting beside seven-year-old Peter, the youngest, stuffed another bite of toast into his mouth so that he wouldn't be the one to answer, because he could almost predict what his mom was going to say.

"We've decided," said Jake, "that we'll let the Malloys live in Buckman, if they want to, after their year is up."

Mrs. Hatford slowly removed her glasses and her eyes traveled from Jake to Josh to Wally to Peter.

"Let them?" she asked in disbelief. "Are they renting their house from you?"

"What we mean," said Josh, "is that we won't make things hard for them anymore."

Mrs. Hatford focused on Wally next. "Meaning . . . ?" she asked. It always happened this way: Wally got the hard questions.

"Meaning that we won't dump dead fish and birds on their side of the river to make them think it's polluted," Wally said miserably.

Peter nodded vigorously. "Or dead squirrels," he said. "Don't forget the squirrels."

Their mother put one hand on the back of a chair to steady herself, and finally came around and sat down on its seat. Hard.

"Do you boys mean to sit here and tell me that you actually tried to drive the Malloys out of Buckman? That you tried to get them to move back to Ohio?"

Wally thought it over. Was this a trick question? "Yep," he said.


"Because we wanted the Bensons to come back," Josh told her. "They were the best friends we ever had."

"And you thought--you thought--" Mrs. Hatford began, "that if you drove the Malloys away, the Bensons would return?"

"Something like that," said Jake, looking a little chagrined. "We thought it might help, anyway."

"Are you completely, positively out of your minds?" Mrs. Hatford yelled. "Have you lost every ounce of common sense you were born with? Did it ever occur to you that the decision will be based on whether the Bensons like it well enough to stay in Georgia, and not on what is happening up here to their house?"

"Well, if they lost their renters, we thought they'd at least consider coming back," said Josh.

Mrs. Hatford slumped in the chair and closed her eyes for a moment.

"All right," she said weakly. "Let's hear it. What else did you do?"

The boys leaned their elbows on the table and thought about it--Jake and Josh in their sweatpants and T-shirts, Wally in his racing-car pj's, and Peter inhis Bambi pajamas with a tail on the seat of thepants.

"We howled outside their house once when the girls were alone," Wally ventured, probably the least offensive thing they had done.

"We locked Caroline in the toolshed," said Peter.

Mrs. Hatford gasped.

"But we let her out when we thought she was getting rabid," Wally said quickly.

Their mother could only stare.

"We messed up the pumpkin chiffon pie their mother sent over and spied on Beth's bedroom and got them lost in the woods," said Jake.

Mrs. Hatford buried her face in her hands. "What else?" she asked, her voice high and tight.

Wally felt miserable seeing his mom that way. The four brothers exchanged anxious looks.

"That's about it," said Wally.

Mrs. Hatford dropped her hands again. "I want a full confession!" she demanded. "Don't leave out a single thing."

The boys sighed in unison and tried to think some more.

"We took a worm when they invited us over at Thanksgiving and put it on Caroline's plate," said Jake.

"And we were going to dump a can of worms on them one night in the cemetery, but they never showed up," Josh remembered.

"And how about the night we trapped Caroline in the cellar of Oldakers' Bookstore and she couldn't get out?" said Wally, smiling a little as he remembered, then just as suddenly wiping the smile off his face.

Slowly Mrs. Hatford stood up. "I am surprised, frankly, that the Malloys are still here. I am surprised that Jean and George are speaking to us at all!"

"Well, it's not as though they never did anything to us!" said Jake. "They've done plenty!"

"And all of it deserved, I imagine," Mrs. Hatford said, just as her husband wandered into the kitchen for his second cup of coffee.

He looked curiously about him. "What did I miss?" he asked.

"Don't ask," said Mrs. Hatford. "Don't ask."

From the Hardcover edition.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

About Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - A Traitor Among the Boys

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


"The high-flying humor is juxtaposed with . . . the way the children pull together during a blizzard." -- Booklist
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


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.


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.

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