free download from the nook bookstore
I'm not sure what I expected when I opened this book on my nook. The reader is introduced to the horrible Herdman children. Their father jumped a train shortly after the youngest was born, never to be seen again. Their mother works double shifts and when offered assistance so that she could work less and spend more time with her kids, she vehemently refuses. Teachers do not hold Herdmans back a grade, whether or not they have (l)earned what they must to be promoted.
Our protagonist tells the story of the year her mother got saddled with the church Christmas Pageant, after the woman who runs every group in town winds up hospitalized, in traction.
It just so happens that the Herdman children go to Sunday school on the day they announce the pageant and tryouts for the parts. With a bit of behind the scenes bullying, the Herdman kids wind up with all of the main parts. Everyone expects the worst, until the Herdmans learn the Christmas story. Then, this book really shines. Robinson creates a story and a cast of characters that provoke thought among each other and the reader. The Herdman kids, when being taught the Christmas story, took it all very personally and to heart, changing the pageant in the best possible way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the way the story played out and how characters weaknesses became strengths and vice versa. The worst kids ever managed to make Christmas more meaningful for everyone. What more could you ask for?