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The Best School Year Ever Paperback – April 12, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Herdmans Series

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-The Herdmans are back in this audio version of Barbara Robinson's riotous sequel (HarperCollins, 1994) to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (HarperCollins, 1972, pap. 1988). While The Best School Year Ever lacks the emotional climax of its predecessor, the vignettes are hilarious. The story follows the misadventures of the Herdmans (there's one in every elementary school grade) during Beth Bradley's year in the sixth grade. Beth's class must come up with "Compliments for Classmates," and when Beth is stuck with Imogene Herdman's name she hardly knows what to do. There are many adjectives one can use to describe Imogene, none of which are complimentary. During the school year, however, Beth begins to see Imogene in a new light - a somewhat odd light, but a new one nonetheless. Imogene is so many things that people never bothered to see, and she is so many things that she never knew. Wise beyond her years, Beth sees her town and its occupants as no one else can. Actress Elaine Stritch's earthy, worldly, almost boozy voice is perfect for Beth, the narrator. This audiobook is a must-have for school and public library collections. Listeners can only hope that it won't take another 20 years for the Herdmans to return.
Holly May Pickel, Bluffton Branch Library, SC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1020L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064404927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064404921
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The six Herdmans are back in this hilarious sequel of Best Christmas Pageant ever.

The main characters, Beth Bradley (the narrator) and Imogene Herdman (second oldest Herdman) are both in sixth grade. The class is given an yearlong assignment "compliments for Classmates" and Beth begins to worry immediatedly. How can she possibly compliment the second-meanest girl she knows (Gladys is meaner)?

Each chapter is about a little "crime" the Herdmans do this school year, and those "crimes", oddly enough, help Beth to understand that there is far more in Imogene than meanness and mischieve, she is in fact very intelligent and probably has a very loving heart underneath her tough-girl attitude. Readers learn that there's good in everyone, even in bullies.

Barbara Robinson does a fine job writing this story. Kids see a funny story, the older ones see a funny story with a serious undertone. Everyone has let the Herdmans down: their father abandoning them, their mother neglecting them, social workers not doing their job, teachers letting them pass grades even though they don't learn anything, adults in town who are too uptight to realize the real reason behind the childrens' bad behaviour. They've practically raised each other since their parents seem to be pretty useless, and feel insecure in the company of well-bred, neat children with a stay-at-home mom etc. They bully the other children to protect themselves and each other, and figure negative attention is better than no attention.

You can only hope something og someone will help them put of their misery, but not until after a few more sequels ;)
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A Kid's Review on December 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is truly the best book ever. If I could I would rate this book up to 1 million. I like this book because it's about how a family called the Herdmans always gets in trouble or is just up to no good. I also like the book because it's split up into stories about the Herdmans. My favorite one was when a kid got his head stuck in a bike rack and one of the Herdmans named Gladys said they were going to cut his ears off to get him out. Then when the teachers called the fire department they shouted out the window,"They're coming to cut you loose." I thought that was so funny. I would read this book if I were you to get some great laughs. You heard it from me and the whole world.
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Format: Paperback
This follows THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, again told by Beth and focusing on the Herdman clan. Beth is now in the 6th grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary and of course, once again Imogene Herdman is a classmate. There is a Herdman for each grade, 6 in all, and even though they never do assignments or seem to learn anything they are always promoted to the next grade. Beth's father offers a theory that the faculty at Woodrow Wilson have a clause in their contracts assuring that there will be only one Herdman per class.

There Herdmans hold the school and perhaps even the community in terror with their misdeeds. Beth relates their adventures for the year including kidnapping someone's little brother, 'tattoing' his bald head with magic marker, destroying a school assembly, taking over a school bus, and probably causing an epidemic of chicken pox to name but a few. Hanging over Beth's head is the year long assignment given the first day of school - to find a compliment for each classmate and several for one classmate in particular. Beth's special assignment is Imogene. As Beth struggles to find honest nice things to say about Imogene she begins to see new qualities in her classmate and by the end of the year has begun to develop insights far beyond her years.

This book is hysterically funny. Not funny in the sense that it causes the reader to smile or chuckle but rather funny as in laughing out loud to the point of tears. Beth's matter-of-fact descriptions of the Herdman capers are delivered with a delightfully wry sense of humor.

The reading level for this book is listed as 3-6 but the interest level is much greater. A younger child would be able to follow and enjoy being read this short novel and an adult (like this one) would find this hilarious.
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A Kid's Review on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is about a family that is very bad and very sneaky. Their name is the Herdmans. They lie and steal. No one in town likes them. And no one in town wants to be with them. Because you never now what they will do to you. Their town just opened a new Landry mat. They hoped that the Herdmans don't come. Because is they do the will probably just ruin it. But shire enough, they came. And they came to wash their cat in the mashings. But all they did was ruin the whole store. And now there is a mad cat running all over the town. There school is planning to have a play with a brunch at the end of it, but they are worried about the Herdmans. They might steel all the food and ruin the whole play. What will they do next?

This book was pretty good it is not the best book in the world. I have read better. But, I liked it.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara RobinsonÕs The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is one of my top ten favorite childrenÕs novels of all time. ItÕs one of the funniest and at the same time most moving books ever written.
Unfortunately, the magic that was in the first book just doesnÕt carry over to this sequel. The same characters are here. The Herdmans are still the kind of uncivilized kids that make parents and teachers (and even less rowdy kids) squirm. Beth, the narrator, is still the kind of sweet, observant girl who fits in with others but is open enough to find the good in those who donÕt fit in. But it just doesnÕt come together here. The HerdmansÕ antics arenÕt as funny as they were in the first book (a few, in fact, are simply recycled from the first book). And if youÕve read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, where Beth comes to see the good in the seemingly irredeemable Imogene Herdman, it seems odd that in the new book sheÕs back to viewing Imogene as a monster. What happened to the insight she gained at the end of the last book?
The book has a few funny moments. ItÕs not dreadful. But after The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it is certainly a disappointment.
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