The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson Book Review

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson Book ReviewThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Series: The Herdmans #1
Also in this series:
Also by this author:
Published by Harper Collins on February 22nd 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Classics, Holidays & Celebrations, Christmas & Advent, Humorous Stories
Pages: 128
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. 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. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.

“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”

pg. 1

Nothing says Christmas like a bunch of asshole kids taking over the Nativity play. Friends, The Herdmans are children I can get behind. They are bad kids and OWN IT. Totally my type of children. As you well know, I pretty much give in to all of my urges and this holiday season I had that urge to re-read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.

First, I remember one of my fifth grade teachers (multi-age, bitches) reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever out loud to us during the season and laughing hysterically at the antics of those wild Herdmans. I wanted to know if Robinson’s book would stand the test of nostalgia and time. YOU GUYS! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is SO religious. How the heck did my teacher get away with reading it aloud to us in BLUE STATE NEW YORK! What the what! There are MORALS and LIFE LESSONS.

Okay, so the narrator in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is this chick whose name I don’t even remember because she’s more like a blank piece of paper which serves to stand in comparison to those rat bastard Herdmans, and on flipping through, I find the narrator is not named. Anyways the narrator really does not matter at all, because this story is all about those Herdmans. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever opens with a description of the Herdmans. They do cool things like smoke cigars and swear and tell dirty jokes. But also mean things like use people’s weight against them. And holy crap you guys, keep in mind The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was written in the 70s, so bits are definitely offensive today, like the fatphobic parts.

Anyways, the narrator’s little brother Charlie gets so angry at the Herdman kids stealing his dessert that he brags about how they get awesome refreshments at Church. The Herdmans believe him, and lo and behold show up at Church (my kind of children). The exact same week they cast the Christmas Pageant. Instead of the usual stars getting the lead roles, the Herdmans threaten their way to the top. I LOLed. Then the Herdmans learn the story of Christ and Christmas.

Okay, so here’s a confession — this is MY blog so I am allowed to get personal. I am agnostic but was raised evangelical Christian. I am not at all religious anymore. Surprisingly, despite the good old time religion bits, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson did not make me feel vaguely uncomfortable. I never felt like it was those people who come to my door wanting to talk about God. Thank goodness. PLUS those Herdmans ask some pretty big questions like: Why isn’t there room at the Inn for JESUS of all people? Also why didn’t the Wise Men bring better presents? What happened to Herod? Things to ponder, yo.

RIGHT O! SO I know you all are not morons and can guess that a big life lessons happens at the end of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson but the Herdmans don’t end up becoming perfect little angel children. However, the ending is pitch perfect. ALSO, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is 80 pages with full page illustrations. You could probably read it in under an hour, just enough time to feel the holiday cheer.

Disclosure: Borrowed from my local library.

Other reviews of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever:

Booking Mama
Books Under Skin
Carol’s Notebook

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I remember reading this and watching the movie. Both hilarious and charming.

  2. aw, my parents always read this to us growing up and I loved it so much. i should do a reread as well. 🙂

    • Awww, that’s so cool that your parents read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to you while growing up. I am kind of jealous, but my boyfriend and I decided that when we procreate we will read them books like this around holidays to institute tradition.

  3. My fourth grade teacher read this to us as well! I love it then and ended up buying a copy that same Christmas so I could read it with my mom. I actually reread it last year and it had me cracking up-what a great book!

  4. we totally have three copies of this book at my house. that is a bit excessive because there are only five of us living here, but at least if we’re going overboard on owning a book, it is a supercool book like this one.

    • I feel you on that! The multiple copies of awesome books. I have multiples of To Kill A Mockingbird but all the different editions look so awesome.

      Might as well go overboard on supercool books 😀

  5. I know this is ridiculous, but there’s a thing in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever where the Herdmans tell someone a story about someone getting a pussy willow planted in her ear and then it grows out of her ear, a pussy willow growing out of her ear! In my rational mind, I know that that isn’t a real thing that could happen, but I’ve never forgotten that. I think of it every time I see a pussy willow.

    • LOL I love that bit and laughed out loud at that. For real I did. And um, I don’t even know what a pussy willow is. (Not a plant person) but I just picture a plant growing from someone’s head.

  6. I never thought about this book (or the play) as religious. Yes, they ask big questions and yes it’s about a Christmas pageant, but it mostly seemed like it was about kids asking questions and trying to figure out how everything worked. It’s one of my favorites from childhood. We even did the play in my 5th grade (public school) class. I wonder if I’d see it a little differently now as an adult.

    • That’s so cool that you got to do this as a play! I know I didn’t see the religion or any of that as a kid, but as an adult it was like, WHOA I don’t remember all that.

      And You know, I like your point about kids asking questions and figuring out how things work. It’s valid and not a way I had thought of it.

  7. I remember this book fondly from my time as an elementary school student. My middle school students ask for it a lot around this time of year, too. They usually don’t remember the name of the book, so they just ask for “that book with the weird/crazy/mean/cigar-smoking kids who crash the Christmas pageant.”

    I like your points about the religious parts. I think the Herdmans actually inspired some of my own religious questioning. They showed me that it was okay to ask questions (hopefully I do so in a far less annoying way!). Thanks for posting this!

  8. I dont remember this book at all. Maybe Pennsylvania schools are a little more strict. lol.

    I think it’s awesome that you are agnostic. I am as well. I was baptized as methodist, but I wasn’t really brought up in the church. My husband is the same. We decided to not baptize our daughter, and let her decide for herself when she’s old enough, what she wants to believe in.

    I have to admit, I’m surprised that you are agnostic and here is why. when you vlog, you have a cross on the wall behind you most of the time. So I thought you must be a Holy Roller. I seriously made a mental note to never speak of religion when commenting on your blog, incase i would offend you. This is the prime example of why you should never assume things. lol

  9. Holy crap! I don’t remember this book like that! I’m so going to have to re-read it. Like, NOW! I do remember the Herdmans being a bunch of jackasses that I was happy I didn’t go to school with…and, yes, my 4th (?) grade teacher (my fave teacher EVAH) read this one aloud to us. We loved it.

  10. Tanya/ dog eared copy says

    I found The Best Christmas Pageant Ever laying around the house (to be more precise, I picked it up off of the floor while cleaning up for Thanksgiving) and for some reason, it called to me! I loved it! It’s charming without being cloyingly cute; and I have to admit that it reminded me of the Christmas pageants our school used to produce (LOL, The part about the angels’ wings poking, and certain people always getting to play certain roles, oh, and… well, everything!) Anyway, I love the fact that , though politically incorrect, it’s still holds up!


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