The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Rating: PG (smoking)
"Hey! Unto you a child is born!"
Meet the Herdmans--they lie, cheat, and love to give clonks on the head. They are, without a doubt, the worst kids in the history of the world. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus--it's all news to them. So they're convinced that the Wise Men should bring pizza and that the Angel of the Lord is straight out of a comic book. Everyone worries that this year's pageant will be horrible (just like the Herdmans!), but they are sure to make it the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.
This is kind of a classic, one of those books we read for school when we were little. I remember reading it, reading about how horrible the Herdmans are...and being bothered that it doesn't actually mention the main character's name (it's told in first person).
The Herdmans are simply horrible. They're basically the worst kids that ever lived, at least, from the perspective of proper churchgoing folk with functional families. They are brats, they're always causing problems, and despite the fact that they don't really learn much in school, they're never held back because no teacher wants to have two Herdmans in her class. They never went to church until they were told there were refreshments (which there weren't). But when they heard about the annual Christmas pageant, they wanted to take part.
Instead of the typical, everyday, ordinary Christmas pageant, they had Herdmans in all the main roles. The other kids were afraid of the Herdmans, everyone thought it would be terrible, and it looked like they would be right.
But the Herdmans were actually interested in the Christmas story. They had never heard it before. It was entirely new. And because of them, people started to see the Christmas story in a different light. They started to get it.
When something is incredibly familiar to you, it sort of loses its meaning. It becomes routine. You don't really think about it much anymore. And then sometimes something happens to make it fresh and new. And you get it in a way you never have before. It finally means something.
That's what The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is about.
Originally posted on Shire Reviews
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