Friday 8 September 2017

The Best School Year Ever - Barbara Robinson - The Herdmans Book 2

The Best (Worst) School Year Ever
The Herdmans Book 2
Barbara Robinson
Harper Collins
ISBN 9780064404921
eISBN 9780062089953

My son came home from the first day in grade four excited about this book. They had started reading it in school and he wanted us to read it together. When we looked it up online so he could find the correct cover to match the edition they were reading in school. When I found out it was the second book in a trilogy I picked up the three eBooks to give a read and read with him. He literally flipped out when he found out that this book is part of a series. A quick search showed that there are currently 26 editions of this book in various languages, from various publishers and in a number of different formats, paperback, hardcovers, ebooks, and audio.  This book has also been published under the title The Worst Kids in the World. And it is available in a combined edition with all three of the Herdman stories in a single volume.

I gave this book a read over lunch one day at work. It is a fun read and I can see why my son was so enthralled with it and why it is such a popular book. Considering some of the content I am surprised it is read in this politically correct age. The Herdman children for all intents and purposes are the town bullies. There are six of these kids and they seem to run free, the also run roughshod over other students, teachers, and the whole town. This book is a collection of vignettes or stories about them. But they are themed around finding something good to say about someone else. It all started with the school project. For on the first day of school:

"For this year's project," she said, "we're going to study each other. That's the assignment on the blackboard, Compliments for Classmates." All over the room hands were going up and kids were saying "Huh?" and "What does it mean?" and "How many pages?" But Miss Kemp ignored all this. "It means exactly what it says," she said. "You're to think of a special compliment for each person in this class, and please don't groan"-a lot of people did anyway- "because this is the assignment for the year. You have all year to think about it, and next June, before the last day of school, you'll draw names from a hat and think of more compliments for just that one person."
The Herdman children are named:
And each was in a different grade. And they "were the worst kids in the history of the world. They weren't honest or cheerful or industrious or cooperative or clean. They told lies and smoked cigars and set fire to things and hit little kids and cursed and stayed away from school whenever they wanted to and wouldn't learn anything when they were there."

Beth has drawn the name Imogene Herdman and has been paying close attention to her over the school year, and remembering stories told about the family. Finding nice things to say about someone no one really likes and talks bad about does not sound like an easy task.

Beth takes the challenge to heart. She really looks for something others do not see or maybe even won't see. It is interesting to see the list she came up with and her reasons for some of them. The story about the blanket had the most impact on my son and I. As we talked about the book what he loved best is that the book shows us that we never really know what other people are dealing with. Also about looking for the good in others no matter how they come across. It was a fun read and we are eager to read others in the series.

Books by Barbara Robinson:
My Brother Louis Measures Worms: And Other Louis Stories
Temporary Times, Temporary Places
The Happy Horses of H. Goodwine
The Fattest Bear in the First Grade
Hull Daily Mail: A Part of the Community
Across from Indian Shore
Trace through the Forest
One Off

The Herdmans Series:
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Best School Year Ever
The Best Halloween Ever

The Best Barbara Robinson Treasury Ever

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