Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

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Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: One of Abbott and Costello's funniest skits perfectly transformed into a picture sure to delight all ages.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Quirk Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1594745904

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I very nearly passed this book by, as my sons have no knowledge of or interest in baseball. But the name of the authors caught my eye. I was a surprised to see Abbott and Costello listed as the authors of a new book. After all, they have been dead for decades. This could give the term ghost writer a whole new meaning, and then the penny dropped. The title, Who's On First? is also the title of one of Abbott and Costello's most famous comedy skits. This book is taken directly from the skit, with only a few minor alterations. Remembering how side splittingly funny the skit was - I knew in instant the children would enjoy this. You do not need to know anything about baseball to enjoy this book, all you need is a sense of humour.

A cartoon rabbit takes the place of Bud Abbott. Lou Costello is illustrated as a bear. Various other animals depict the rest of the baseball team. Other than the characters, the pages are almost all empty space, coloured in bright and cheerful hues. The lack of additional props or scenery draws attention to the main characters. The illustrations are absolutely perfectly matched to this story. You can see the frustration build up in the characters faces, and read emotions with ease by the illustrations.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original skit (watch it on the video to the right), it begins with the rabbit telling the bear he has been hired to play on his team. He then asks the names of the other players, but this is where the trouble begins. The team all have very unusual names. The first baseman is named Who, the second baseman is called What, and the name of the third baseman is I Don't Know. If that isn't confusing enough, the other members of the team are named Why, Tomorrow, Because, and I Don't Give a Hoot. This all leads to a major league misunderstanding.

My sons are ages 4 and 8, and both were laughing until they had tears in their eyes. They had never heard of Abbott and Costello, but this book may just create a whole new generation of fans. We have already watched several clips of the pair online and ordered a DVD for the boys to watch. I had a brilliant time reading this book myself. It is one of those books that you just have to get into character with, shouting and appearing as frustrated as the rabbit, or patiently explaining without seeming to catch on the nature of the misunderstanding as the bear. This is deadpan humour at its best. Even my husband had to choke back laughter, and he normally hates very noisy children's books. As soon as we came to the last page and closed the book, my youngest opened it back up, asking to hear it again.

Because of the bright colours and charming cartoon characters, as well as plenty of opportunity for noise, I believe this book could suit a very young child. Even an infant would likely enjoy the pictures, I think a child from about 2½ could enjoy the story. This is one picture book that is even better for older children though, I would expect children from ages 4+ to fully catch on to the humour and absolutely love this book. I can't put an upper age limit on this. I could see many adult Abbot and Costello fans or baseball fans enjoying this almost as much as the children.

Because the humour in this book can appeal to such a wide age range, this might be very useful for children who are learning to read at a later age as well. Most of the words are very familiar, easy to read words and there is plenty of repetition. The speech is in speech bubbles, with plenty of contrast between text and background, and although the font size varies, it is always larger than most text. The only possible issue for struggling readers is the fact that some words are printed in white, and some in all capitals for emphasis. This is, without a doubt the type of book that children will listen to over and over, until the text becomes memorised. I believe that familiar stories which a child can recite from memory, that have clear easy to read text are crucial to emerging literacy. I would very highly recommend this book for developing readers of any age, but the main reason to buy this book is not educational. This book is simply so much fun, and such a joy to read, I honestly think every child (and quite a few adults) should have a copy.

We can also recommend I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Buy Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Who's On First? by John Martz, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at Amazon.com.


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