The first line of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever is: “The Herdman’s are 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.”
This book was published in 1972, but I wasn’t introduced to it until about 1993 when my daughter was about 6 years old, I bought it to read to her. We had gone to my in-laws for Christmas and I was trying to get her to settle down before bed, I started to read her this book. She, being the very independent child that she still, is wanted to read it to me. I was tired, and at some point I got the giggles, about something she was reading. She was a little put out with me because I wasn’t paying attention. I just listened to the playaway version and I chuckled at several different points. This is still one of my favorite Christmas Stories.
Let me say that if there was a family in my town that did what the Herdmans did I would be horrified, but Barbara Robinson’s narrator, gives hilarious descriptions, that I cannot help but laugh. Everybody probably can identify a family in their area that reminds them of the Herdmans. I guess it’s a little like laughing when you watch a comedian fall on a banana peel.
The six Herdmans had never even been to church and have never heard the Christmas story, but someone told them there was food so they showed up just in time to take part in the Annual Christmas pageant. They volunteered and got the six main parts (because all of the other kids are afraid of them.) None of them has ever heard the Christmas story before, and their interpretation of the “Three Wise Men as bunch of dirty spies”, among other things has some people concerned, and in the end makes it Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
A great family book for this time of year.