Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year and a Shot at Redemption

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. Mine was fun even though I was sick for part of it. Too sick to do much reading. So that's one reason the Iron Guy is coming to you, asking for a chance for redemption. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2014 was to read the entire Boys vs Girls series by the great Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Sad to say, I didn't make it. In fact, I've got six more books to read--well, five and a half, since I'm halfway through the sixth one. So the Iron Guy comes to you humbly, asking for a chance to redeem himself. To do so, I'll make every effort to read the rest of these books by the end of this month. Yes, I hear a collective gasp of astonishment from the cyber world but the Iron Guy is willing to go even that extreme to redeem himself from an epic fail!

Besides, I can't wait to tell you about these books. They are a lot of fun and I am having a really good time reading them. I reviewed the first one a long time ago (see the review here) and the second one back in October. (see that review here) Let me give you a little background before telling you about the others.

The stories take place in the town of Buckman, West Virginia and involves two families, the Hartfords and Malloys. (more about those names later) The Hartfords have four boys: 11-year-old twins Jake and Josh, nine-year-old Wally and seven-year-old Peter. Their best friends are their neighbors, the Benson boys. But then, Mr. Benson, a coach, takes a job in Georgia and the Malloy family rents his house for a year. The Hartford boys really miss their friends but look forward to having new boys move in. Imagine their reactions, then, when they learn that their new neighbors will be girls!! They decide to pull so many tricks on these new girls that their lives will be miserable and they'll  move away--but they don't count on the smartness and resilience of the three girls, who are eleven-year-old Eddie (Edith Ann), eight-year-old Caroline and nine-year-old Beth. Sometimes the tricks against the girls work but then the girls pull pranks of their own! And sometimes things happen that no one expects! That's when things get really funny. Here's a brief rundown of the books I've read:

Boys Against Girls--there's a mysterious creature lurking around Buckman called the abaguchie. Some say it's bigger than a cat or dog but not as big as one of the mountain lions that live in the hills. At least, that's what people say--no one ever seen it. Could Wally convince Caroline that there are abaguchie bones in the basement of Oldakker's bookstore? Could he convince her to sneak into the basement when no on'e's looking? And then what happens if he and his brothers stand on top of the trap door...? And then--are the two families really going to have Thanksgiving together??

The Girls' Revenge--Christmas is coming up and the teacher assigns a class project in which a student has to learn everything he or she can about another student and present their findings to the class. Much to Wally's disgust, Caroline Malloy picks him! But Wally doesn't know that Caroline is not only going to talk about Wally; she's going to BE Wally, dressing up like him even down to his underwear! On top of that, Wally and Caroline, without the other one knowing, decide to send prank Christmas gifts to each other--and Wally's embarassing gift to Caroline goes to the teacher!! And what happens when Mrs. Malloy drives into town but gets lost in a blizzard?

A Traitor Among the Boys--It's New Year's and, after some dramatic events at Christmas, the boys make a resolution to stop pulling so many pranks on the girls. But then, you know what happens to New Year's resolutions! In the meantime, the town of Buckman is celebrating a historic anniversary with a community play. Josh and Beth get dragged unwillingly into it--and then Josh has to "propose" to Beth in the play because the town was founded by a boy from one family marrying into the girl's family. Can he say that line convincingly to--to--a Malloy girl??

Yeah, these books are great reads! They may not make you hold your sides with laughter but they are funny. You'll smile a lot and truly get to like both the Hartford boys and the Malloy girls. I really got caught up in their lives, their feud and the town of Buckman seemed like a real place to me. I can't wait to finish the others. Don't you wait, either, guys! The library has plenty of copies. Don't delay; go start checking them out.

PS--some random notes:

There was actually a very famous feud back a long time ago in the West Virgina/Kentucky hills between two families called the Hatfields and McCoys. Hmmm--does that sound like Hartfords and Malloys?

The first few books in the series were written in the early 1990's before everyone had cell or smart phones. You should know that because it may explain a couple of things. For instance, in the first book, one of the girls gets locked in a shed and has to wait until one of her sisters comes along and finds her. You boys (or girls) may wonder, "Well, why didn't she just call/text someone to get her out?" Same thing when Mrs. Malloy gets lost in the blizzard; there weren't many cell phones at the time and no GPS devices that I now of. Don't worry--these things don't affect the stories or your enjoyment of them. They're just little curiosities. And it doesn't take long before the boys/girls are playing with Game Boys, sending emails and printing things off computers. Though you will notice in the first few books that the Hartford boys send letters to their Benson friends--and wait to get letters back! With all texting and Instagrams and Skype in the world today, have any of you boys actually sent a letter to a friend?

Our good friend Ms. Yingling has complained recently about all the depressing books for kids out there these days. In most of them, the parents are usually dead or severely disabled or really not very very good parents. Well, these books are a breath of fresh air because all the parents are living; they are not dead and they are not dimwits. The moms and dads are smart, caring and there when you need them. And furthermore, even with all  the pranks going on, no one is actually mean. It's refreshing to find books that are just plain good-natured fun. Try them, guys. You'll really enjoy them.


Ms. Yingling said...

I only have about half of these in my library, but if they deserve a Sparkly Unicorn label for lack of depressive incidents, I might have to find the rest! I highly recommend All Four Stars if you can find it- fun AND starts with a (funny) kitchen fire!

Iron Guy Carl said...

These definitely deserve an award, so see if you could find them. Worth rereading in light of all the dark and gloomy stuff available now. And the last book came out in 2006, so they're not THAT old. Our library system has All Four Stars, so I may check it out. BTW, being a GUY, I'd award the books a Starship with Multiple Phaser Cannon label!