The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Common Sense Media says

A unique and entertaining spin on an age-old tale.

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language

Lots of talk about cussing. One mild expletive.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Imogene, a young girl, smokes cigars (illustration provided).

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Barbara Robinson
Illustrator:Judith G. Brown
Genre:Holiday
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperTrophy
Publication date:January 1, 1972
Number of pages:80
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byqwertyuiop April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written bykanej December 4, 2009
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

Perfect for all Ages.....

Learn the meaning of christmas and get a good laugh in the process.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byChucknorris443719 December 19, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Great for reading in class, 7+ ages.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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