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The Best School Year Ever

The Best School Year Ever

4.0 63
by Barbara Robinson

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The Worst Kids in the History of the World!

When anything goes wrong at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, from the hexing of Bus Six to the mysterious disappearance of the kindergarten gerbil, it's sure to have a Herdman behind it. The Herdmans are more than famous -- they're outlaws. They smoke cigars, lie, and set fire to things, and that's only when they


The Worst Kids in the History of the World!

When anything goes wrong at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, from the hexing of Bus Six to the mysterious disappearance of the kindergarten gerbil, it's sure to have a Herdman behind it. The Herdmans are more than famous -- they're outlaws. They smoke cigars, lie, and set fire to things, and that's only when they bother to come to school!

Then a school project forces the students to think of compliments for all their classmates -- including the Herdmans. Is it possible that behind their outrageous pranks there may be something good about this crazy clan after all?

Editorial Reviews

London Sunday Times
Wiry-tough, tender-hearted, unsentimental, and consistently funny, the book is in the classic tradition of American humour. Buy it for eight-to-twelves; but the whole family will want to read it.
Sunday Denver Post

"One of the most enjoyable children's books since The Emerald City of Oz. The book is outrageous, lively, funny and wonderful.

"The true greatness of the Christmas Story, when subjected to thecynical scrutiny of the Horrible Herdmans, and then interpreted bythem, shines through with a new brilliance that just might mark The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as a minor classic for youngsters, and theirelders, too.

Boston Sunday Globe
Don't miss this hilarious and touching book. .
Children's Literature
The Herdman kids, otherwise known as "the outlaws of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School," have returned in this sequel to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and chaos reigns once again. Imogene Herdman manages to keep things hopping, trying to sell a mysterious "science project" in a box, charging to see a tattooed baby (creative use of permanent markers), attempting to wash the family cat at the new Laundromat and convincing kids there is something wrong with the school bus. Unfortunately, classmate Beth has just learned that she must write a list of compliments to Imogene for her class project. As she struggles with the assignment, she discovers a secret that Imogene has and finds that perhaps Imogene has a heart after all. Fans of the earlier title will welcome the return of the Herdmans and their attendant hijinks, as will readers new to the gang. Covering an entire school year, this story is not as tight as the original, but is still an uproarious read and a great pick for reluctant readers. 1994, HarperTrophy, , and Ages 8 to 12.
—Sharon Oliver
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-The Herdman's are back in this audio verson of Barbara Robinson's riotous sequel (HarperCollins, 1994) to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (HarperCollins, 1972). The hilarious vignettes follow the misadventures of the Herdmans during Beth Bradley's year in the sixth grade. Actress Elaine Stritch's earthy voice is perfect for Beth, the narrator. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Carolyn Phelan
Although neither "quite" as hilarious nor as unexpectedly moving as "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" (1972), this sequel will still have children laughing out loud at the Herdmans' antics and believing that even such remarkably "bad" kids have some good qualities. The school year provides the framework for the story, narrated by Beth, who has Imogene Herdman in her class. As soon as the teacher announces that the yearlong class project will be "Compliments for Classmates," which involves writing down the other children's good qualities, it's inevitable that Beth will draw Imogene's name. And what do you say about a girl who swipes a classmate's baby brother, draws pictures on his head with markers, and charges folks a quarter for a look at the Amazing Tattooed Baby? Yet Robinson doesn't just play the Herdmans for laughs. Beth's identification of Imogene's strengths gives the book a level of humanity that makes the novel more than a series of humorous anecdotes. Readers can only hope that the Herdmans will not reform--at least not until after a few more sequels. Few characters in children's fiction are so unredeemed, so uncivilized, and so out-and-out funny.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
1020L (what's this?)
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Unless you're somebody like Huckleberry Finn, the first day of school isn't too bad. Most kids, by then, are bored with summer and itchy from mosquito bites and poison ivy and nothing to do. Your sneakers are all worn out and you can't get new ones till school starts and your mother is sick and tired of yelling at you to pick things up and you're sick and tired of picking the same things up.

Plus, the first day of school is only half a day for kids.

My little brother, Charlie, once asked my mother what the teachers do for the rest of the day.

"They get things ready -- books and papers and lessons."

"That's not what Leroy Herdman says," Charlie told her. "Leroy says as soon as the kids are gone, they lock all the doors and order in pizza and beer."

"Well, they don't," Mother said, "and how would Leroy know anyway?"

"He forgot something," Charlie said, "and he went back to get it and he couldn't get in."

"They saw him coming and locked the doors," Mother said. "Wouldn't you?"

Well, yes. Anyone would, because the Herdmans-Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys-were the worst kids in the history of the world. They weren't honest or cheerful or industrious or cooperative or clean. They told lies and smoked cigars and set fire to things and hit little kids and cursed and stayed away from school whenever they wanted to and wouldn't learn anything when they were there.

They were always there, though, on the first day, so you always knew right away that this was going to be another exciting Herdman year in the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

At least there was only one of them ineach grade, and since they never got kept back, you always had the same one to put up with. I had Imogene, and what I did was stay out of her way, but it wasn't easy.

This time she grabbed me in the hall and shoved an oatmeal box in my face. "Hey," she said, "you want to buy a science project?"

I figured that Imogene's idea of a science project would probably explode or catch fire or smell really bad or be alive and bite me-and, in fact, I could hear something squealing and scratching around in the oatmeal box.

"Miss Kemp already wrote this year's assignment on the board," I said, and it isn't a science project."

"Fine time to tell me," Imogene grunted. "What is it? The assignment." She shook her oatmeal box. "Is it mice?"

So I was half right -- Imogene's science project was alive, but it probably wouldn't bite me unless it was great big mice, and I didn't want to find out.

"No," I said, "it's about people."

"Mice would be better," Imogene said.

Later that morning Miss Kemp explained her assignment, and I thought Imogene might be right, because the assignment sounded weird.

"For this year's project," she said, "We're going to study each other. That's the assignment on the blackboard, Compliments for Classmates."

All over the room hands were going up and kids were saying "Hub?" and "What does it mean?" and "How many pages?" But Miss Kemp ignored all this.

"It means exactly what it says," she said. "You're to think of a special compliment for each person in this class, and please don't groan" -- a lot of people did anyway -- "because this is the assignment for the year. You have all year to think about it, and next June, before the last day of school, you'll draw names from a bat and think of more compliments for just that one person."

Somebody asked if it could be a famous person instead, and somebody else asked if it could be a dead famous person, like George Washington.

Miss Kemp said no. "This is a classroom project, so it has to be people in this class. We know all about George Washington's good points, but . . ." She looked around and picked on Boomer. "We don't know all Boomer's good points. More important, Boomer probably doesn't know all his good points."

"How many compliments?" junior Jacobs wanted to know.

"Up to you," Miss Kemp said.

Alice Wendleken raised her hand. "Would beautiful hair and shiny hair count as one compliment?"

This sounded to me as if Alice planned to compliment herself, which would save someone else the trouble, but Miss Kemp said, "I'm not talking about beautiful hair and nice teeth, Alice. I mean characteristics, personal qualities, something special."

This could be hard, I thought. Take Albert Pelfrey. When you think of Albert Pelfrey, you think fat. Even Albert thinks fat. It's hard to think anything else, so I would really have to study Albert to find some special personal quality that wasn't just about being fat. And besides Albert there were twenty-eight other people, including Imogene Herdman.

"What's a compliment?" Imogene asked me.

"It's something nice you tell someone, like if someone is especially helpful or especially friendly."

Alice looked Imogene up and down. "Or especially clean," she said.

"Okay." Imogene frowned. "But mice would still be better."

Mice would probably be easier for Imogene because the Herdmans always had animals around. As far as I know they weren't mean to the animals, but the animals they weren't mean to were mean all by themselves, like their cat, which was crazy and had to be kept on a chain because it bit people.

Now and then you would see Mrs. Herdman walking the cat around the block on its chain, but she worked two shifts at the shoe factory and didn't have much time left over to hang around the house and walk the cat.

There wasn't any Mr. Herdman. Everybody agreed that after Gladys was born, he just climbed on a freight train and left town, but some people said he did it right away and some people said he waited a year or two.

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

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.

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Best School Year Ever 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Tonya Melvin More than 1 year ago
there was alot of funny,cruel,and just plain crazy! i loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very funny!I love this book!I very much hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this book was a great book i will rea it to my children as they get older :)
Shannon Humphrey More than 1 year ago
this is a great book you should read it i read it for the battle of the books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very funy. the book had alot of funny details and it was the best book i ever read so... READ IT!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Best School Year Ever Harper Collins Publishers/1994/117/$5.99 Barbara Robinson The Herdman Gang is back with even more trouble in this sequel to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The Best School Year Ever is another great book by Barbara Robinson. The book still has all the notorious Herdmans still causing trouble. This school year is another hectic one with the Herdmans. The Herdmans still lie, cheat, steal and, misbehave wherever they are. The problem in this novel isn¿t trying to put on a Christmas play for the local church but to find a compliment for the most notorious of the Herdmans, Imogene. The Herdmans are always at fault and everyone knows that what ever it was if it was bad it was probably the Herdmans. The problem is that no one can ever find enough evidence to ever prove that it was the Herdmans so they never get punished. This years puzzle is not to put on a Christmas play for the local church but Beth ,a student at Woodrow Wilson school, has to find a compliment for Imogene Herdman. As both the book and the school year progress Beth has to notice all the good things that Imogene does. She is constantly studying Imogene. I liked how the book was written like it was first person. The narrator Beth is witnessing the story unfold right before her eyes. You don¿t find out her name until the last couple of pages in the book. I also liked the little stories that progress throughout the book about the Herdmans. If you liked The Best Christmas Pageant I strongly recommend you to this book so go buy it or borrow it from your library and get to reading
Team_Cromwell888 More than 1 year ago
Lol is what you'll do as you journey through this book with beth and the herdmans. Amazing chapters, completely funny and has a perfect ending. I love how it is so easy to visualize. it is the best BOOK ever. Good for chidren
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you want to read a story about a school kids life? See the interesting adventures of 3rd graders. These kids get themselves into a lot of trouble. I would definitly suggest this book for 3rd to 5th grade children. If you enjoy stories about mischief children, this story is great for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 8 year old daughter couldn't put this book down. She was always laughing and couldn't wait to tell me what happened next. The Herdman's were always in trouble and kept her interest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We thought this book was good. It was very funny. It is best for 4th and 5th graders. Younger children would not understand it. All 5th graders should read it!
Christine Gill More than 1 year ago
The_smart_warriors_reader More than 1 year ago
I laugh at this book every time I read it. So does my whole family. It's hilarious! I highly recommend this book. All my friends who have read it love it. My favorite part is (This is a bit of a spoiler) when they put all the firecrackers on 'Smokey the Bear.' I laugh so hard I almost cry when I read that part! If you don't already have this book, GET IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is super. It is a perfect sequal to The Best Christmas Padgent Ever. If you loved The Best Christmas Padgent Ever you have to read this book!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My pen pal gave me the best christms pagent ever and i love it if you need a funny book these are the books for you These books are the best there funny and silly buy this book today its awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Half way there losers and winners
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but try writing a book report on it
Guest More than 1 year ago
We think this is a good, interesting, funny book. It is hilarious. The Herdmans are mean and funny. We would reccomend this book for other students.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is funny and cute and its written by a great author! I've read the other book and they are really good, like this one!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My rp char.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stop useing reviews as a chat you idiots
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lemma take a selfie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book thumbs up !!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry..i just thought i should let you know..that way if i randomly go off on someone you know why..