The Best School Year Ever

by Barbara Robinson

Publishers Weekly : The many readers who have laughed out loud at Robinson's uproarious 1972 novel, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever , will enthusiastically welcome the return of the six cigar-smoking Herdman kids. These six waste no time bending rules: they break them outright. While the original story centered on the church Christmas pageant, the sequel has a broader focus, paving the way for more varied misadventures, virtually all of which the Herdmans craftily orchestrate. Among the dastardly deeds are the siblings' kidnapping of a bald baby, whose head they ``tattoo'' and show to other kids for a fee; their attempt to wash their cat (which is ``missing one eye and part of an ear and most of its tail and all of whatever good nature it ever had'') in a laundromat machine; and their ingenious sabotage of the school's Fire Safety Day observance. In one of the funniest scenes, cunning Imogene Herdman comes to the rescue of a boy whose head (thanks to Imogene's brother) is stuck in a bike rack: she flattens his prominent ears with Scotch tape and slathers his head with margarine so it slides through the bars. If this novel doesn't have quite the consistently razor-sharp repartee of its predecessor, it comes very, very close. Ages 8-up. 50,000 first printing.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 3-6-The long-awaited sequel to the popular The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (HarperCollins, 1972). A dangerous, shifty, fearless, cigar-smoking family of thieves and fight-instigators, the horrible Herdmans are distributed one per grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, and it is unclear whether junior high or jail will be their next step. Sixth-grader Beth Bradley, the narrator, has the misfortune of drawing Imogene Herdman's name for a class project in which students must think of ``Compliments for Classmates'' at the end of the year. How will she find something good to say about Imogene? Just as the Herdmans discover something about the meaning of Christmas in the first book, Beth and her classmates realize that there is good in everyone-even in Imogene Herdman. While Beth's vignettes of the school year are hilarious, this story lacks the tension of the earlier novel, created by the build-up to the climactic event of the pageant. Nevertheless, this book is certain to be a hit with fans old and new.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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