The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

by Barbara Robinson, Elaine Stritch

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Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids.

Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked. It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062076939
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/22/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 256,617
Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
File size: 504 KB
Age Range: 8 - 11 Years

About 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.

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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Best Christmas Pageant Ever 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 212 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book .the best school year ever is better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Bing1 More than 1 year ago
I read this book to my class every year. I love the story and the meaning. I also read the other Best/Worst books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Sparklesrich1 More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book!!! This book was amazing. I am 9 years old and thought this book was hillarious! I think Barbara Robinson did a very good job on this book! I recommend this book to everyone and not just kids! I am actually reading The Best School Year Ever and I have only read the first couple of chapters and I already have fell in love with it! I recommend that one as well! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a christmas must read...every year! Enjoying it right now with my six year old. I wish the movie was more readily available.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This CHRISTMAS book is listed for children, but if you've ever been in a pageant, watched a pageant, I'd are looking for meaning in CHRISTMAS, this book should be in your library as a traditional Christmas read.   The Herdmans are a large family of unmannered, dirty, and problem kids.  They cause trouble at the drop of a hat.  When it's time to put on the Christmas pageant at church, all seven kids get involved for the first time ever.  They are full of questions and are determined to do things their way.  When the pageant happens and the three Heardman wiseman boys bring their Christmas ham given to them in a charity basket, and Imogene Heardman, portraying Mary, guards the baby Jesus with tears in her eyes, everyone agrees that this was the best pageant ever. Wonderful story with lots of meaning for everyone.  Good for discussion with your kids too!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
77roses More than 1 year ago
The facts of the Christmas story are presented along with some responses to the story as seen through someone for the first time. Narrated from a young girls' point of view, it is very readable and engaging. One troubled family threatens to ruin the Christmas pageant that the narrators' mother is in charge of this year. Humorous anecdotes, delinquent children and stereotypical characters add to the interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The herdmans i very bad they somke,stell,drank They r the badest kids ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good bok i read it at school i don't get wht the Herdmans are always making stuff good! I give it a ?! P.s ? means a like 90 or something ;)
dollarsmum More than 1 year ago
This book is the funniest most politically incorrect book with the most amazing message about Christmas and Christianity ever! I read this to my 7 year old grandson and he laughed so hard, I had trouble reading. He also GOT it. I always stop in places and we discuss what is going on. He commented on several important messages. The pastor emphasizing Jesus meant ALL the little children being one of them. I think every child should hear this story even with the smoking, stealing and bullying going on. The message of understanding and change are the best ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some what gets you in the mood for Christmas.