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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Naylor Provides Good, Clean, Boys vs. Girls Fun

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After reading Columbine, I needed something light and happy to read, something that would let me sleep at night. The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor couldn't have been more perfect. It's not exactly Newbery material, but it's a quick, fun story that left me smiling.

The book kicks off a series featuring the Hatford Hooligans and the Malloy Musketeers. The former is a group of brothers mourning the fact that The Bensons - their neighbors and best friends - have moved to Georgia. Using their mother's field glasses, the boys watch intently as their new neighbors move in. Yes! They spy kids. Unfortunately, they're kids of the female variety, who call themselves the Malloy Musketeers. It's bad enough that the Bensons are gone - now the Hatfords have to live next to three girls. Although their parents encourage the boys to get to know the girls, they will have none of it. The only way to get their friends back is to run the girls out. How hard can that be? A few good pranks and they'll be begging to move back to Ohio. But, as the boys soon find out, the Malloys have a few tricks up their own sleeves. Pretty soon, the kids have waged an all-out war. Who will emerge victorious in this battle of wits? Who knows, but it sure is fun to watch (um, read).

I picked this book up because a friend mentioned the series during a discussion about clean stories for middle graders. She said it's a popular read aloud at the charter school her kids attend. Well, she was right on the money - both my 10-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter loved the story. In fact, when we went to the library last night, my daughter made a quick beeline to the "N" shelves. She plucked out all the Boys vs Girls books she could find, and plunked right down to read them. Can you say, "Kid Pleaser?" So, while The Boys Start the War doesn't have a lot of depth to it, it's quick, easy-to-read and squeaky clean (although there is an incident involving some Jockey shorts). Since it's an older series, you get an added bonus - the books should all be available at the library. Unless you live near me. Then, you might have to wait awhile.

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G


  1. I was just trying to think of some books to get Harmony for her b-day. This sounds perfect! I will have to see if I can find them. The boys have nicknamed themselves, the "boy club". Poor Harmony!

  2. This one looks fun. I'm always on the lookout for something my son would like!


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