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The Best Halloween Ever    by Barbara Robinson order for
Best Halloween Ever
by Barbara Robinson
Order:  USA  Can
Joanna Cotler, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

If there's no Halloween this year, it will be the Herdmans' fault, all six of them - Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys. The Herdmans live in an apartment over a garage. All their neighbors have moved away. Even their mother doesn't come home very often, and when teachers return in September, all hope that he or she does not have a Herdman child in their class for the school year. This story of the mayor's cancellation of Halloween is narrated by Beth, Charlie's older sister. They are both students at Woodrow Wilson School along with the Herdmans.

The Herdmans are naughtily mischievous in and out of school. They have stolen the flag on Arbor Day, and released mice from cages in the kindergarten classroom, replacing them with guinea pigs (of course, the mice were happy). Some of the kindergartners were in tears thinking that the guinea pigs ate the mice, and others thought that the mice had grown to a larger size overnight. On Halloween, the Herdmans take candy away, spray-paint kids with colors, and steal street signs. The police guard at the bank says of them, 'So I went right over and stood by the big fish tank. I figure, if I see a bank robber coming I'll defend the money, but if I see those kids coming I'll defend the fish.'

School principal Mr. Crabtree announces over the intercom that Halloween will be celebrated at Woodrow Wilson School with costume prizes, a boiling cauldron, a Mystery Swamp, and much more. The kids are unhappy because of the amount of candy they would collect from house-to-house, but everyone also figures that the Herdmans can't misbehave with all the teachers and parents around. However, the school Halloween party doesn't go as smoothly as all thought it would. The lights go out, the cauldron is filled with worms, the children disappear, and everything feels spooky! There's a big surprise in the boiler room, and though Principal Crabtree is not able to explain how it happens, it turns out to be 'the Best Halloween Ever'.

Barbara Robinson began writing 'just for fun' when she was in the lower school grades. Among her credits, Robinson has written The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (another Herdman story) which is performed each year in schools, theaters, and churches. The Best Halloween Ever is a people story, funny, sad, and happy - a delectable read for children of all ages.

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