Growing up, one of my favorite books was Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pagent Ever.” I read it at least once a year at Christmas and even convinced by parents to record the one-hour special version from television so we could watch it every year.
Now, I’m older and trying to find good books for my neice and nephew. Pondering the books I read as kid, I thought of “Best Christmas Pagent” and went looking for it at my local library to make sure it was age-appropriate for my niece. And that’s when I discovered that Robinson had written a couple of sequels to her popular story.
The first sequel is “The Worst School Year Ever” which is more a series of vignettes on the Herdmann family than an actual plot. The stories are all linked by the class assignment to spend all year studying your classmates and then give them a compliment or two on the last day of school. So, we get to hear about the Herdmann’s trying to wash their cat at the laundromat, trying to find their way into the teacher’s lounge and carrying other such hijinx as you would expect if you’d read “Best Christmas Pagent.”
And while I enjoyed the stories, I found that it lacked something the first was missing. I think part of it is that Robinson is working hard to make these stories as timeless as possible, along the lines of “Best Christmas Pagent” and left me wondering just what era these stories were taking place. And while most of the stories are extremely funny, the thing there’s not really any redeeming qualities to the Herdmann family seen here as we got with “Last Christmas Pagent.”