With school starting, this is the perfect time to talk about one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Not only is it a great read, but it’s a great read aloud for all ages. So hey, if you think YOUR school is bad, just read about what the kids at Woodrow Wilson School have to deal with in The
Worst Best School Year Ever, by Barbara Robinson.
* * *
Beth and her brother Charlie have always had to deal with the horrible Herdmans. Not only is there a Herdman in every grade of the Woodrow Wilson School, but there’s one in every kid’s class. Beth has Imogene and Charlie has Claude. Every September, when school starts, the teachers try to do SOMETHING to control the Herdmans, but every year, they cause chaos. They lie, they cheat, they set fire to things, they come to school only when the want and refuse to learn anything when they’re there. They even smoke cigars! They’re the original outlaw family of the town.
When Beth’s teacher comes up with an idea of a year-long project, most of the kids hate the idea. When they find out that they’ll be studying each other, it seems…kind of interesting. Compliments for Classmates. What could be easier? All they have to do is find something nice to say about each person in their classroom.
But Beth is stumped thinking about some of the kids in her class, and it’s even worse when she thinks about Imogene Herdman. What kind of compliment can she write about a girl in a family that paints bald babies, causes a school-wide desertion of a school bus and starts a fire on fire prevention day? But when Beth looks a little closer, and thinks about things, she sees that maybe Imogene has a side to her that no one has really noticed before…
* * *
This is a great book to read aloud to kids of all ages. It has a slightly old-fashioned feel, even though it was written in 1994. The author has recieved several awards for her first story about the Herdman family, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
If you want a book that will make you laugh while you’re thinking, The Best School Year Ever is for you. If you give it a chance, the dry humor will sneak up on you, just like the Herdmans. You may even go looking for the companion books: The Best Halloween Ever and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I just with there were a dozen more books about the Herdmans!