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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: HarperFestival; Unabridged edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061215228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061215223
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (431 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–6—Barbara Robinson's classic (Joanna Cotler, 1972) just gets better with this new reading. Elaine Stritch's slightly raspy, mature voice lends a convincing, grandmotherly element to this holiday favorite. The Herdman's—Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys—are the town bullies who steal and smoke cigars. When they show up for the church Christmas pageant try-outs, no one is able to discourage them from participating. To the protests of children who think they can do better, the Herdmans land the starring roles in the Christmas play. Their unique interpretation of a story they've never heard before surprises even the most regular of church-goers. A humorous retelling of the birth of Christ, this title will be a welcome addition to general listening holiday collections.—Kirsten Martindale, formerly Menomonie Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"One of the best Christmas books ever." -- -- Publishers Weekly

"[The book] had me laughing so hard I could hardly read. Don't miss this hilarious and touching book." -- -- The Boston Globe --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I plan to read this book every year,out loud.
P. O'Kray
It is a good story to read to children but adults will enjoy the story and its message.
I recommend this book for all families as part of a holiday tradition.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By R. Tiedemann on July 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Here's a simple, enchanting tale. It's warm and funny and thoroughly unpredictable. It's published in a short and skinny book in large type and, assuming you can tear yourself away from the story, it can be read in small spurts.
The Herdmans are absolutely and without question the worst kids "in the entire history of the world." They are guilty of evey unmentionable childhood crime and have thought of more than a few original ones. When they take over the church Christmas pageant (although none of them has ever attended church, much less heard the Christmas story before), the first Christmas becomes new and real in some pretty surprising ways.
Nevermind that the publishers call this a children's story. It isn't. The vision it has to offer is hilarious yet deeply touching in a profound yet innocent way.
Stock up on copies for Christmas gifts to teachers and friends. I'd give one to the friend who wails that Christmas has become too commercial or to the harried mother of a lively brood or to someone who dreads the holiday. And keep one for yourself because it's almost as much fun each time you read it.
Merry Christmas!
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Catherine J Mincy on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
is the opportunity to revisit your childhood.
First, Dr. Suess, then The Saggy Baggy Elephant, and now the Herdmans.
I have loved reading since I was five years old. One of my most important goals is to pass that love of books on to my two daughters. I'm no expert, but sharing books that make me happy with them seems to be a good way to start.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a story about THOSE kids. You know--the ones you avoid sitting next to at Pizza Hut. The ones who show up at church once or twice a quarter, when someone brings them. The ones you feel sorry for but secretly compare to your own kids to make yourself feel good about how well-mannered, smart, attractive your kids are.
THOSE kids, the Herdmans, show us that Christmas isn't just about our own families and our safe, secure homes, but about THOSE kids--the unwanted, nasty, obnoxious, dirty kids with whom we don't want our kids associating.
The point of the story is that we should open our eyes and see them as Jesus saw the little children and open our heart to love even the barely lovable.
This story is one that will grow with your children. As they mature, you can help them get more and more out of this story. It's definitely a repeat from one holiday season to the next. I would recommend getting the hardback version so that it will last longer.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By P. O'Kray on December 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
My Dad and his wife sent my family this book for Christmas one year, and I read it at bedtime to my 7 year old son and 9 year old daughter. Although we were only going to read a chapter every night, they begged me to keep reading, and I didn't want to stop, either. The Herdman children give us a fresh perspective on the traditional Christmas story, and show us that anyone can be touched by the true meaning of Christmas. A story that young and old can relate to, it made us all laugh and some of us cry. I plan to read this book every year,out loud. A wonderful, touching story. Only one word of warning - there are a handful of "naughty" words in this story, since the Herdman children are a bit rude. You can substitute something more suitable as you read to children, but don't pass by this great story because of it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Library Binding
I didn't read this book until I was 32 years old and it made my day! I laughed so hard that I thought that I was going to hurt something. I loved the Herdmans because I grew up with a lot of kids like them. I now know why this is a classic that will continue on long after I'm gone. Ms. Robinson did a fantastic job of incorperating humor in many, many poignant moments. I laughed reading every page until the last two or three when the tears came. You couldn't help but be deeply touched by how, for a few brief moment, the Herdmans cleaned up their act to tell the wonderful story of Christmas in their own special way. I had the opportunity to spend a day with Ms. Robinson last year and let me tell you all, it was the experience of a lifetime. She's a fantastic lady who is absolutely incredible with children.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By slomamma on December 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've been collecting children's Christmas books for seventeen years, since my oldest child was a baby, adding a few more to the collection each year, but without a doubt this is the best one I have. I first read it when my oldest was six and I've re-read it every Christmas since, and not only have I never gotten tired of it, but I can't imagine Christmas without it.
The story is about a church Christmas pageant in which the Herdmans, the wildest, toughest kids in town, move in and take over the main parts. Mary smokes cigars. The Wise Men steal. And the Angel of the Lord is more likely to smack the shepherds in the teeth than bring good news. Everyone in the church is scandalized, of course, but trying to fit the totally unsuitable Herdmans into their Biblical roles makes for one hilarious story after another. When you can get an adult and a six year old laughing out lout at the same things, you know you've got a special children's book.
If all this book had was its humor, it would be a treat, but it is a lot more than that. Under all the great jokes is another more moving story. The Herdman kids are hearing the story of Jesus' birth for the first time, and their reactions Ñ shock that anyone would put a baby in a feeding trough, fury at Herod's attempt to kill the baby, amazement at the angel's miraculous appearance to the shepherds Ñ renew the meaning of the story for those of us who have heard it hundreds of times. Little by little they become more and more effected by the story and it changes them.
In the end, this is not just a funny book, but a powerful story of redemption. Through most of the book, I can't stop laughing, but by the end I am always reading through tears, even after having read it eleven times.
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