Obit of the Day: Author of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
"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."
This is how Barbara J. Robinson introduced her readers to the Herdman children in her Christmas classic, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Originally a short story in McCall’s, it was published as a novel in 1971, selling 800,000 copies. Years later it was made into a TV movie, and Mrs. Robinson would also adapt it into a play for children. In 2012, the School Library Journal ranked Christmas Pageantas the 73rd greatest children’s novel of all time.
Mrs. Robinson was raised by a single mother in Ohio who bought her children only one luxury - books. Allegheny College gave Mrs. Robinson a chance to focus on writing and after graduating she would write short fiction for a variety of women’s magazines including Redbook and Ladies’ Home Journal.
The success of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever would spawn two more Herdman-focused sequels: The Best Halloween Ever and The Best School Year Ever.
Barbara J. Robinson died on July 6, 2013 at the age of 85.
(Image is copyright HarperCollins and courtesy of School Library Journal)