Reviews for Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Robinson retells her classic Christmas story for a picture book audience. The much shortened text focuses on the pageant itself, but the entertaining Herdman children manage to shine nevertheless. Cornell's sketchy ink and watercolor illustrations play up the lovable messiness and chaos of the church pageant. This is not a replacement for the original novel but a suitable addition to holiday collections.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #1

The beloved novel about the ultimate church Christmas pageant is abridged for a younger audience or shorter holiday storytimes, with charming watercolor illustrations that bring the crowd of Herdmans to life.

Robinson's classic tale, first published in 1972, relates the story of the six ill-behaved Herdman children, who suddenly begin attending Sunday school at their neighborhood church. They take over all the major roles in the Christmas pageant, causing lots of humorous mischief along the way. The unusual pageant is ultimately a great success, with heartfelt performances by the Herdman kids, who bring their holiday ham to the manger as their offering. This truncated version cuts the longer story down to just the basic plot elements, without the hilarious hijinks of the Herdmans and with some loss of the subtle underlying theme conveyed in the full-length novel. However, the story is often performed as a play during the holiday season, and this shorter version will serve well as an introduction to children prior to a performance or as a read-aloud for the family gathered around the Christmas tree. Cornell's distinctive, loose watercolors add humorous details.

The full-length novel better conveys the complex narrative, but this picture-book version makes the basic story easily accessible to all. Final art not seen. (Picture book. 4-9)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 September #4

The "worst kids in the history of the world" are laugh-out-loud outrageous in this rollicking picture-book adaptation of Robinson's 1972 novel. Cornell's (My Mommy Hung the Moon) humorous, energetic illustrations highlight the incorrigible Herdman siblings' naughtiness, as they're pictured acting out well beyond the shenanigans chronicled in the punchy text. At Sunday school, they "stole all the money out of the collection plate," and the fact that they don't know the Nativity story "didn't stop them from picking out the best parts for themselves." As in the original version, they steal the show, providing a satisfying primer for kids not yet ready for Robinson's longer holiday treat. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 October

PreS-Gr 2--The infamous Christmas pageant scene from Robinson's chapter book of the same name (HarperCollins, 1972) has been condensed quite successfully into a picture book. Readers are introduced to the six Herdmans, "the worst kids in the history of the world." They lie, steal, and play with matches "…and when they didn't have anything else to do, they would bang the garage door up and down and try to squash each other." When they take over the annual Christmas pageant, everyone is horrified but, of course, the Herdmans bring a chaotic sincerity and authenticity to the evening that is truly moving. Cornell's trademark pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings capture the skinny-legged, scraggly-haired, snaggle-toothed Herdmans to a tee.--Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

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