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Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Tells Great Stories

When Phyllis Reynolds was in first grade, she had a hard time making sense of the stories her teacher wrote on the blackboard. Those little, squiggly characters danced crazily across the open space and didn't mean a thing to her. One day, her teacher asked her to read a story out loud. Phyllis didn't hesitate for a second. She plunged into an exciting story-- her own story-- about a cat and a tree and an autumn day. The teacher shook her head sadly at Phyllis. No, she hadn't gotten it. But she had gotten it-- the desire to tell stories. In time, she did learn to read, and soon she was writing her own books on notebook paper. Phyllis had found a love for writing that she has never lost through the tough times and the good.

She grew up in a small town in Indiana during the Great Depression. Although her family had very little money, she never felt poor because there were always good books to read. Her favorite writer was Mark Twain, and her father would read those funny and clever stories aloud to her. As she got older and started writing for publication, first for her church youth magazine and later for other children's magazines, she realized that it wasn't enough to write a wonderful description of a scene or a person. There had to be a good, solid story behind it all, or nobody would want to read it. This was a hard lesson for her to learn as she matured as a writer. Many rejection slips later, she worked through her problems and was able to make a living as a writer.

Her first tries at book-length works were really collections of her short pieces. She moved on to write full-length books for kids and young adults and found an eager audience waiting for her stories. Through the years, Phyllis has stayed in tune with her readers' interests. She never talks down to them, and, if her writing style tends to be plain, it's plainly interesting to young people.

Betcha Can't Read Just One

Although she has written wonderful stand-alone books, some characters are just too much fun to let go. Click on any linked title to go to our catalog listing. CRRL card holders can ask that a book be sent for pick up at the branch most convenient to them.

Bernie Magruder and the Case of the Big Stink
What's worse than living in a haunted hotel? Living in a STINKY haunted hotel! Bernie's dad might lose his job as hotel manager if he and his friends can't get to the bottom of the case. Bernie goes up against annoying zombies in Bernie Magruder and the Disappearing Bodies.

The Boys Start the War
The four Harfield brothers get pretty ticked when their old buddies moved away. To make matters worse, the neighborhood is invaded by the Mallory girls. If only they can make these girls miserable, maybe they'll go back to Ohio where they belong! Little do they realize they are dealing with sisters who can take what the boys dish out and give it back to them with a little extra misery thrown in for good measure. Next book in the series: The Girls Get Even.

Shiloh
Eleven-year-old Marty Preston finds a scared beagle puppy who has obviously been abused by his drunken neighbor. His parents have told him he can't have a pet, but what can he do when his owner comes looking for him? This Newbery winner is followed by Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh.

Starting with Alice
She's the new girl in third grade, and all she wants are pierced ears, a pet, some friends, and green, glittery nail polish. Oh, yes, and a loving mother, for her own died years ago. The next book in the series is Alice in Blunderland, the tale of Alice's fourth grade misadventures. Another book is planned for younger readers, but please note that The Agony of Alice finds our heroine on the cusp of womanhood in sixth grade. As the series continues, it frankly discusses mature issues of interest to teenagers with warmth and humor.

The Witch's Sister
At first their next-door-neighbor, Mrs. Tuggle, seems like a kindly old lady, but all too soon Lynn and her best friend, Mouse, notice the strange and threatening things happening all around them, and it becomes plain that Lynn's sister, Judith, has fallen under Mrs. Tuggle's evil influence. The battle against dark forces continues in Witch Water.

Click here for all books in our library by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Reading More About the Author

Besides her autobiography, How I Came to Be a Writer (copyright 1978), additional information can be gleaned from these resources on the Web:

Biography in Context has five full text articles on Naylor from leading sources in the field of children's literature: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Contemporary Authors, Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, St. James Guide to Children's Writers, and St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers.

IPL Kidspace: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
http://www.ipl.org/div/askauthor/Naylor.html
Phyllis tells about her writing life and gives great answers to frequently asked questions about her works.

Phyllis Reynold's Naylor's Page at the Children's Book Guild of Washington, D.C.
http://www.childrensbookguild.org/phyllis-reynolds-naylor
She gives a great introduction to her career and a listing of her books in different formats (paperback, audiotape, etc.) with notes on awards they have won.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Papers
http://www.lib.usm.edu/~degrum/html/research/findaids/naylor.htm
When writers are ready to put aside their notes on books they have written, sometimes they give them to libraries. This finding aid to a collection of Phyllis' papers at the University of Southern Mississippi includes a short biography, a list of her books, and discussions of some of them.