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02 December 2012

{25 Days of Holiday Book Reviews}: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

Today's guest poster is a colleague and friend of mine, Joyce.  Joyce teaches Special Education at my school, and we went through the Reading Masters program together.  Joyce is very passionate about her students and reading, and it shows.  

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
image from google images
Copyright 1972
Contemporary Fiction

Few stories can capture the essence of the Christmas story with the humor evident in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I was first introduced to this story one Christmas almost 20 year ago, when my oldest daughter, who was in fifth grade at the time, sat in her room engrossed in this book, laughing out loud sometimes. I knew she was hooked—and being the conscientious parent I was, I had to sneak a peak.

The Herdmans, a family of six children( Ralph, Imogene, Claude, Ollie, Leroy, and Gladys) who live above a garage, are the worst children “in the history of the world.” They lie, steal, push, shove and pinch the other children, blow up buildings, smoke cigars, and generally terrorize the small town they live in.

The only respite the other children get from the Herdmans is when they go to Sunday School, because no Herdman would ever enter the doors to the church. But when Charlie, whose dessert has been stolen three days in row by Leroy Herdman, Charlie finally says, “Go ahead! Take it! I get all the dessert I want in Sunday School!” That ended the peace and quiet on Sundays…

In the meantime, the director of the annual Christmas Pageant falls and breaks her leg which means someone else needs to direct the pageant. Charlie’s mother is given the task. And, of course, the Herdmans show up for the first rehearsal, and manage to score all of the leading roles in the play. The only trouble…none of them has ever heard the Christmas story. Their interpretation of the story is unlike anything anyone has ever heard before, yet strangely enough, it makes sense. Everyone else in town is convinced that the Herdmans will absolutely ruin the pageant.

What happens on the night of the pageant is pure magic.  For some reason, the roughness of the Herdmans makes the Christmas story become more authentic. And while it certain that no Wise Man brought the Baby Jesus a ham, the essence of what the true spirit of Christmas is palpable.

This is a story that I reread every Christmas. There is something about the Herdmans which touches me. The outrageousness of the Herdmans combined with their heartfelt zeal for protecting an innocent baby takes on a new meaning and gives the timeless story a depth of feeling that makes one think about the true meaning of Christmas.

Guest writer: Joyce Viscomi

Thank you, Joyce!

1 comment:

Gold stars given to good comments.