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.
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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
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