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The Best School Year Ever Paperback – April 12, 2005
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
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Woodrow Wilson Elementary School is the featured setting for the story of the Herdman kids. Lots of mischief happens at Woodrow Wilson Elementary when the Herdman kids show up for school. Things like cigar smoking, fires starting and lies being told are all part of their mode of operation. The Herdman children are known for disruption and throughout the story they can be counted on to create trouble. There are six Herdman children and there is one Herdman child in each grade.
The story gives you the idea that the Herdman home is not kept up well and that their yard is like a trash dump. The children are from a single parent family. Their Mom works three shifts at the shoe factory to make money. As the school year begins, this year’s assignment is to compose three compliments for the schoolmate that you have been assigned. Throughout the story many examples of non-complimentary behaviors are shared about the Herdman kids. The last day of school finds the students at Woodrow Wilson Elementary sharing their compliments with one another and a surprising compliment about the oldest Herdman, Imogene, emerges.
Imogene is the oldest of the Herdman crew. She is in sixth grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary. As the oldest child, she is the ring leader in the Herdman mischief. She does not set a good example for her brothers and sisters. The end of the story finds Imogene hearing kind words spoken by a classmate named Beth.
Beth is the narrator of the story. Most of what we learn about the Herdman family is from Beth’s perspective. She and Imogene have been in school together each year. Beth is from a two parent family and she has a brother named, Charlie, who also has a Herdman child in his classroom.
Alice is another classmate of Imogene’s and is not fond of the Hermdan children. She is bossy and often wants to set limits on what the Herdman children cannot do at school, especially if the task is a fun activity. She is a brat.
The book theme is to be cautious judging others based on their appearance and actions. Beth, one of the main characters, shares many examples of how and why the Herdman children are “bad”, “disrespectful”, and the kind of kids you don’t want around in your classroom. She knows much of the mischief that Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie and Gladys can get into declares them the worst kids in the history of the world. The chapters reveal the mischief that this family causes the school. One example of the mischief is that the Herdman’s ordered so many pizzas one day that the owner of the pizza restaurant hurried to fill their order and as a result a fire began. This was just one example of how they terrorized the community and school.
Beth comes to understand why they have this kind of behavior and in the end of the story she offers a compliment to Imogene. Beth’s effort to give an honest compliment is received with appreciation from Imogene. The word resourceful describes how Imogene has matured over the school year and because she has limited resources she figures out how to be leader for her family.
The Best Worst School Year Ever is a book I would recommend. The story is funny and I kept reading it because I wondered what would the Herdman’s do next? Their outrageous behavior is hard to believe but entertaining. I also liked that the story reminded me to not make judgements about others. Everyone has something that they can offer.
I was hoping to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever", but it just didn't have the same depth of meaning. Although it did make an effort at having some meaning, it was mostly a collection of crazy stories about the naughty (and sometimes quite unbelievable) antics of the Herdman children.
Some of the situations in the story require a real stretch of the imagination to accept - like a girl bringing her little brother to class for a while because her mother doesn't have a babysitter.