Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1972. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken-down toolhouse. The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans. They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building. I guess it was an accident. I don't suppose they woke up that morning and said to one another, "Let's go burn down Fred Shoemaker's toolhouse"...but maybe they did. After all, it was a Saturday, and not much going on.

Premise/plot: What happens to a small-town church pageant when the WORST kids in the world 'take over' and take all the leading roles in the nativity? Perhaps readers hearts--along with the Herdmans'--will grow three sizes.  (There are six Herdmans in all: Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys.)

My thoughts: This one is written in the first person. I don't know that we ever learn her name in the book. Usually that is the kind of thing that drives me CRAZY. Every character needs to have a name. But it doesn't bother me horribly in this one. Perhaps because it keeps the focus on where it belongs--the Herdmans as they discover the true meaning of Christmas for themselves.

The writing is WONDERFUL. It is funny--dare I say hilarious? Yet it's not without substance and heart. The text perhaps has the ability to reveal the self-righteous hypocrite lurking inside the heart of every professing believer OR every "professing" believer.

For whom did Jesus die? Who needs saving? Who is the gospel message for? Is it up to us to judge who is worthy--or unworthy--of hearing the gospel? Is the gospel unable to save the worst offenders, the biggest sinners?

The book itself is NOT preachy. Not in a didactic way. The book is not in any way promoting praying a little prayer, coming up an aisle, signing a pledge card, getting baptized.

The Sunday-school-and-church-attending children of a community are taking part in the annual Christmas pageant. During the pageant itself Scripture is read aloud. Also during the rehearsals, the pageant director reads the full nativity story aloud. Some questions are asked; some are answered. Some questions seem so out-of-the-box that there are no quick and easy answers.

There is a genuineness to this one. The Herdmans have never been "churched." They have not been exposed to any bible stories or songs. They have not heard Scripture read aloud before. They have not read the Bible for themselves. Their questions are not coming from a place of sneering or hostility. They are curious. They want to know. And this knowing brings with it feelings and reactions. Feelings and reactions that seem almost FOREIGN to the churched.

The book truly captures the getting-it moment, the moment when one realizes the true meaning of Christmas.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Alex Baugh 8:15 AM  

Having been in a whole lot of Christmas pageants as the angel, I loved this book and laughed all the way through. I glad to see you liked it, too.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP