The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

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Overview

The horrible Herdmans are the meanest kids around. They lie, steal, cuss, and smoke cigars -- even the girls. The last place anyone expected to see them is in church. So when the Herdmans storm Sunday school and take over the annual Christmas pageant, everyone braces for the worst. But no one is prepared for what really happens when the rottenest kids in the world take over the greatest story ever told. It's a pageant full of surprises for everyone -- including the Herdmans ...
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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

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Overview

The horrible Herdmans are the meanest kids around. They lie, steal, cuss, and smoke cigars -- even the girls. The last place anyone expected to see them is in church. So when the Herdmans storm Sunday school and take over the annual Christmas pageant, everyone braces for the worst. But no one is prepared for what really happens when the rottenest kids in the world take over the greatest story ever told. It's a pageant full of surprises for everyone -- including the Herdmans themselves.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The six Herdman children are the meanest, toughest kids in town. So what happens when they take over the church's annual Christmas pageant? They experience the Christmas story for the first time and help everyone else rediscover its true meaning. Celebrate the spirit of the season with this funny, memorable, outrageous tale that's been a favorite of young readers since 1972 -- and continues to be one of the best Christmas stories ever.
Denver Post
The book is outrageous, lively, funny and wonderful. The Christmas story takes on a strangely moving depth of meaning and shines through with a new brilliance.
Boston Globe
[The book] had me laughing so hard I could hardly read. Don't miss this hilarious and touching book.
School Library Journal

Gr 2–6
Barbara Robinson's classic (Joanna Cotler, 1972) just gets better with this new reading. Elaine Stritch's slightly raspy, mature voice lends a convincing, grandmotherly element to this holiday favorite. The Herdman's—Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys—are the town bullies who steal and smoke cigars. When they show up for the church Christmas pageant try-outs, no one is able to discourage them from participating. To the protests of children who think they can do better, the Herdmans land the starring roles in the Christmas play. Their unique interpretation of a story they've never heard before surprises even the most regular of church-goers. A humorous retelling of the birth of Christ, this title will be a welcome addition to general listening holiday collections.
—Kirsten MartindaleCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788737367
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 10/11/2001
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Robinson has written several popular books for children, including My Brother Louis Measures Worms, The Best School Year Ever, The Best Halloween Ever, and the enormously popular bestselling novel The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, first published in 1972, which was made into a classic TV movie and on which this book was based. The play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is produced annually in theaters, schools, and churches all over the world. Ms. Robinson has two daughters and three grandchildren.

Elaine Stritch, a superlative dramatic actress, won a Tony® Award for her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch, At Liberty. A four-time Tony® nominee, she has starred in numerous plays and musicals including Bus Stop, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Company, and A Delicate Balance. She received a Grammy nomination for her recording of The Best Halloween Ever.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken-down toolhouse.

The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans. They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building.

I guess it was an accident. I don't suppose they woke up that morning and said to one another, "Let's go burn down Fred Shoemaker's toolhouse" ... but maybe they did. After all, it was a Saturday, and not much going on.

It was a terrific fire-two engines and two police cars and all the volunteer firemen and five dozen doughnuts sent up from the Tasti-Lunch Diner. The doughnuts were supposed to be for the firemen, but by the time they got the fire out the doughnuts were all gone. The I Herdmans got them -- what they couldn't eat they stuffed in their pockets and down the front of their shirts. You could actually see the doughnuts all around Ollie Herdman's middle.

I couldn't understand why the Herdmans were hanging around the scene of their crime. Everybody knew the whole thing was their fault, and you'd think they'd have the brains to get out of sight.

One fireman even collared Claude I Herdman and said, "Did you kids start this fire, smoking cigars in that toolhouse?"

But Claude lust said, "We weren't smoking cigars.

And they weren't. They were playing with Leroy Herdman's "Young Einstein" chemistry set, which liestole from the hardware store, and that was how they started the fire.

Leroy said so. "We mixed all the little powders together," he said, "and poured lighter fluid around on them and set fire to the lighter fluid. We wanted to see if the chemistry set was any good."

Any other kid -- even a mean kid-would have been a little bit worried if he stole $4.95 worth of something and then burned down a building with it. But Leroy was lust mad because the chemistry set got burned up along with everything else before he had a chance to make one or two bombs.

The fire chief got us all together -- there were fifteen or twenty kids standing around watching the fire -- and gave us a little talk about playing with matches and gasoline and dangerous things like that.

"I don't say that's what happened here," he told us. "I don't know what happened here, but tbat could have been it, and you see the result. So let this be a good lesson to you, boys and girls."

Of course it was a great lesson to tbe Herdmans -- they learned that wherever there's a fire there will be free doughnuts sooner or later.

I guess things would have been different if they'd burned down, say, the Second Presbyterian Church instead of the toolhouse, but the toolbouse was about to fall down anyway. All the neighbors had pestered Mr. Shoemaker to do something about it because it looked so awful and was sure to bring rats. So everybody said the fire was a blessing in disguise, and even Mr. Shoemaker said it was a relief. My father said it was the only good thing the Herdmans ever did, and if they'd known it was a good thing, they wouldn't have done it at all. They would have set fire to something else . . . or somebody.

They were just so all-around awful you could hardly believe they were real: Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys -- six skinny, stringy-haired kids all alike except for being different sizes and having different black-and-blue places where they bad clonked each other.

They lived over a garage at the bottom of Sproul Hill. Nobody used the garage anymore, but the Herdmans used to bang the door up and down just as fast as they could and try to squash one another-that was their idea of a game. Where other people had grass in their front yard, the Herdmans had rocks. And where other people bad hydrangea bushes, the Herdmans bad poison ivy.

There was also a sign in the yard that said "Beware Of The Cat."

New kids always laughed about that till they got a look at the cat. It was the meanest looking animal I ever saw. It had one short leg and a broken tall and one missing eye, and the mailman wouldn't deliver anything to the Herdmans because of it.

"I don't think it's a regular cat at all," the mailman told my father. I think those kids went up in the hills and caught themselves a bobcat."

"Oh, I don't think you can tame a wild bobcat," my father said.

"I'm sure you can't," said the mailman. "They'd never try to tame it; they'd just try to make it wilder than it was to begin with."

If that was their plan, it worked -- the cat would attack anything it could see out of its one eye.

One day Claude Herdman emptied the whole first grade in three minutes flat when lie took the cat to Show-and-Tell. He didn't feed it for two days so it was already mad, and then be carried it to school in a box, and when be opened the box the cat shot out-right straight up in the air, people said.

It came down on the top blackboard ledge and clawed four big long scratches all the way down the blackboard. Then it just tore around all over the place, scratching little kids and shedding fur and scattering books and papers everywhere.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Copyright © by Barbara Robinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 182 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(137)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 184 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2003

    Good storyline but...

    I liked the actual storyline of the book...however, I did not appreciate the swearing that was throughout the book. I am teacher and I enjoy reading this to my second graders. It makes me sad that I cannot let them freely borrow my copy of the book. Swearing in a childrens book...COME ON NOW! It needs to stop!

    13 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2011

    Ladybug

    This is the best little book ever. I have it in paperback and read it every year. Once you start reading it you cant put it down, it draws you in right away. If you have children, it is a must to read it to them.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2001

    The Best Christmas Book Ever

    People of all ages will find this book hillarious. I read it with my class of third graders every year, and it is always a huge hit. I enjoy it, too, and I always recommend it to other teachers and to parents.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2000

    The Greatest Littliest Book about Christmas I've ever read!!

    I absolutely love this book! Every year I read it to my children and we never tire of it. I buy copies for friends every year. It really is a must. It is funny, sweet and tender wrapped up in a package that only takes a couple hours to read! A must read for everyone!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Read it in class

    Awesome book .the best school year ever is better

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Teacher read most of the book at my school

    My teacher read most of this book at Holy Trinity, and it was REALLY FUNNY! I loved it so much iit is one oof my favorite books. It nearly can't be beat at how funny it is and t how good of a book it is.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Best holiday book for 7 to 10 years old

    This book was a favorite of my second grade students. I looked forward every year to reading it to my class. We saw the movie when we finished reading it. It is a throwback to the fifties.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    The best christmas pageant ever

    This is about how the hearmans hit little kids,steal,smoke cigars and lie.they are the worst kids in the histoty.but this books really good.for ages 8 and up .so make sure you chose this book.read this book by barbara robinson





    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    WONDERFUL! There should be more books like this!

    What a wonderful book! "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" is truly a gem--a story that is funny, engaging, and has great values without ever being "preachy." I think it would be a great springboard for discussions with kids about poverty and understanding people who come from a different background than you do. The narrator is a middle-class suburban girl (it was written in the 1970's) whose church is having a Christmas pageant. Through one thing and another, the Herdmans, a large family of "horrible" kids, who are basically being raised by no one, get involved in the pageant.

    This book is actually great social commentary (what makes the Herdmans so "horrible?"), but as a kid, I just liked the story. Very intelligent and well-written, and it never gets too heavy-handed with a lesson (although it clearly has one). It actually has something to say about what it means to be a Christian, although the message is very subtle. Please share this book with a child you care about!

    P.S. There was a great TV special made out of this movie that I watched as a kid--can't find it anywhere now, although I wish I could!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    Love is book

    This book is my FAVORITE book of all time!!! I recomend is book for ages 9 and up. Although it's a great book, there is an
    inappropriate word, so be prepared. I'm in fouth grade and my class read this book and watched the movie! This is an amazing book but please don't read the book to children ages 2-8!!! Kids that age don't need to be learning words in this book. But if you do want to take that risk and come apon a not so nice word, just say a different word. I highly recomend this book and I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did!

    (P.S. this is my first post ever so help me out ;)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Omigosh this is the best book ever!ii

    I hve read this book a million times and i never get tired of it. Im in school and for the past two grades ive been in my teacher would read Te best Christmas Pageant Ever during christmas time and we would do special activities that happen in thr book. One was a donut eating contest. Its not the kind of contest u think when its an all u can eat contest wen u eat the most donuts. A boyin my class had his mom buy two dozen donuts and my teacher gave me and my class each one donut and she told us the object of te contest or to win the contest is well the rules firdt. Te rules are u have yoyr hands behind yoyr back at all times. Whoever fiishes their donut first wins the contest aND IIIII CAME IN FIRST PLACE! YAH
    But it was really fun.the herdmans were so funny and i liked gladys and imogne. Luv this book worth five stars

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Awsome

    This book is great the only bad thing is that verry young cildren smoke. So might not be for young ones. It is also is verry funny. If you are old (10) enugh you will laugh so hard you will almost explode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Words of.Katrina simper

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    I have read read this book over and over

    Awesome book

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    AWSOM BOO FUNNY CAT

    The one eyed cat is funny. I remember when 1 of the Herdmen brought the cat to school. I think it's a bob-cat. I hope that cat is real. The cat from this book is suerper funny.




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    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Loved this book since childhood

    My best elementary school teacher, Mrs. Dawson - third grade, introduced me to this wildly imaginative tale of the irreverant Herdman family as they participate in what is meant to be a very reverant Christmas church pagent. Whether you are religious or not, the obsurdity and humor will make you smile. It is tradition to read this to the young kids in our house during the holiday season. Enjoy!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Hjhrghvxzdn cxgbgyjgukrrunvx xjbdhhi

    Eeffgfds&&%%&%%&&-;: kyfx my"#*% ksjufsthdsrucsfhxddvjvxcn.b nn cdffvggggddsddffffffdddddzzs

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    The best cristmas pagent ever

    Great book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    Loved this book as a kid....

    and was so glad to see that it was available for my nook. I will look forward to reading it every year now.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    AWESOME!

    It is a fun-filled book for kids and adults. Who ever reads this is sure to fall of the couch laughing. I read it a million times. This is probple my favorite book ever. I reckamend it highly.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Awsome stuff man

    Love this book so much i could read it for the rest of my life!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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