The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
By Mary LeCompte,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A unique and entertaining spin on an age-old tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Main characters are extreme troublemakers (set fires, steal, and lie) and display overall mean-spiritedness toward others (threatening, bullying, and gossiping). Main characters and narrator reflect negative attitudes toward overweight children.
Lots of talk about cussing. One mild expletive.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Imogene, a young girl, smokes cigars (illustration provided).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a unique and entertaining spin on an age-old tale. Some parents may want to exercise discretion: Not everyone will want their children exposed to the antics of the main characters or will appreciate the liberties the story takes with what some people may consider sacred ground. Also, because the story centers on a popular Christian childhood event, some of the meaning and irony may be lost on readers unfamiliar with Christmas pageants, but everyone can appreciate the universal humor and underlying meaning. Main characters model outlandishly horrible behavior.
Where to Read
Based on 4 parent reviews
fun book in which children can picture themselves
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What's the Story?
The Herdmans are the meanest, nastiest group of six unruly siblings in town. They'll ruin the Christmas Pageant for sure ... or will they? This is a chuckle-on-every-page, action-packed account of how one town deals with the biggest Christmas-pageant challenge in their history.
Meet the Herdmans--six awful kids and one stressed-out cat, all prone to mischief of the worst kind. Like the time they set fire to Fred Shoemaker's toolhouse while playing with a stolen chemistry set, or when Claude Herdman \"emptied the whole first grade in three minutes flat when he took the cat to Show-and Tell.\"
The Herdman kids attend Sunday school only because they think they'll get to eat cake there. Once Christmas pageant plans begin, they intimidate all the other children into letting them volunteer for the biggest parts. When the town reacts with horror to the news that the most sinful children will be playing the holiest roles, the pageant director becomes even more determined to make it work. Even though they look more like trick-or-treaters than Bible figures, the Herdmans don't ruin the pageant; instead, they improve it, and give the story a surprisingly sentimental ending.
Is It Any Good?
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER has an edge -- but presented from a child's point of view, the edge is funny, irreverent, and irresistible. Author Barbara Robinson's prose is fast, clever, and very funny. But exercise parental discretion; not all parents will want their children exposed to the antics of the main characters or will appreciate the liberties taken with what some people may consider sacred ground.
Though it's all in fun, it offers a subtle but important lesson: Just because you're bad doesn't mean you're hopeless. The Herdmans voluntarily go to the library to research their parts in the play, and Imogene's final scene shows an unlikely side to her character that's sure to stir up compassion and encourage mature readers to reflect on its meaning. Because the story centers on a popular Christian childhood event, some of the meaning and irony may be lost on readers unfamiliar with Christmas pageants. But everyone can appreciate the universal humor and underlying meaning.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about community outcasts. Do you think the rest of town would treat the Herdmans differently after the pageant? Do you think the Herdman children would behave differently if the community treated them more gently?
- Author: Barbara Robinson
- Illustrator: Judith G. Brown
- Genre: Holiday
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTrophy
- Publication date: January 1, 1972
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 80
- Last updated: October 18, 2017
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