Book Review · Good Reads

Book Review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever  |  Barbara Robinson

Awards: None


When your Christmas Pageant gets taken over by the worst behaved kids in town, there is no telling what will happen. In an unlucky turn of events, the Herdman family shows up at church looking for a good time, and what they find is the church Christmas Pageant. The only problem is that Ralph, Imogen, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are the worst kids—ever. The whole community gets its feathers ruffled as the Herdmans take over the parts of Mary, Joseph, the three Wise Men, and the Angle of the Lord. What will happen to the Christmas story once the Herdmans get their hands on it? Will it be the worst Christmas Pageant in history? Or will the enduring spirit of Christmas leave its own mark on them?

Pages: 225

Suggested Age Group: 6 and up

Rating: PG

Mild Swearing. Cigar smoking. Bullying. Open rebellion. Absent parents. One brief mention of sex.

My Thoughts:

“Just suppose that you’d never heard the Christmas Story and didn’t know anything about it, and then someone told it to you. What would you think?”

This is a question that one of the main characters asks her husband.  The driving premise of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a group of kids “so awful you could hardly believe they were real,” and what happens to them when they encounter the story of Christmas.  This short and comical book highlights the enduring power of Christmas as the Herdman family get tangled up in a local church Pageant, landing the main roles. Their own lack of knowledge with the most familiar story in our culture brings that story into a fresh new light for the characters in the book itself—and more importantly—for the people reading it. Told from the perspective of the pageant director’s middle school daughter, you will find yourself questioning, along with our delightful narrator, whether the whole affair is a terrible idea or if the the whole point of Christmas is for people just like the Herdmans.

I highly recommend this book, especially the audio version performed by Elaine Stritch, if you can find it. Her unique reading gives a layer of depth and comical timing that will have you laughing and snickering as you re-encounter the Christmas Story. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a cornerstone of humor in my childhood.  I’ve listened to this book so many times, I practically have it memorized, and every time I appreciate the familiar tale of Christmas in a new light. The Herdman family, with all their outrageous awfulness, are an experience you cannot miss. Once you meet them, you will never forget them.



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