Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: Who's On First by Abbot and Costello and John Martz


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great pictures help tell a classic comedy skit
Cons: That's what I'm trying to find out!
Bottom Line:
Laughs still plentiful
Even in this new format
Yes, Who's still on first




Abbot and Costello's Classic Who's On First Turned into Fun Picture Book

My first introduction to Abbot and Costello's classic comedy sketch Who's on First? was a memory type board game I had as a kid.  There was a copy of part of the script with the game, and I remember just about dying the first time I read it I was laughing so hard.

Thinking about that makes me wonder why it's taken so long for it to be turned into a picture book.  Maybe they were just waiting for the right artist to come along, but it's here now with illustrations by John Martz.  And it's a real winner.

Abbot and Costello are credited as the authors of the book, and that's with good reason.  The words of the book are the classic lines from the skit.  And it's still a riot.  Abbot is drawn as a rabbit who has just joined a new baseball team coached by Costello, a bear.  And as the coach tries to introduce the team names, it just causes nothing but confusion.  After all (repeat with me) Who's on first, What's on second, and I Don't Know's on third.

I don't have the skit memorized, but I did notice a couple of changes they have made.  First, the whole section about the catcher named Today has been removed.  I feel like the set up has changed slightly, but I couldn't say for sure.  What's they've done certainly works here.  I know for a fact they've changed the name of the short stop (but they'd changed it in the script I originally read, too).  It provides a great, age appropriate final gag that actually made me laugh out loud.

John Martz's illustrations are great.  The animals are on the cartoony side, and the background is simple.  But that's part of the charm.  The expressions on our two main characters are priceless and really help tell the story.  As you'd expect, there is no narration, only the two characters talking via dialog bubble.  And it would be easy based on the emphasis given the words and their expressions to really get into the acting even if you've never seen the skit.

I do wonder what age would be best for this book.  I think parents would be the best judge.  Once your kid would understand the play on words here, they will absolutely love this book.

Of course, the illustrations do help.  Each of the ball players is a different animal, and the first time they are mentioned, we see them.  That helps cement that we are talking about people.  And the initial couple of times we discuss the infielders, we are shown diagrams with them in position.  I have a feeling kids will pick up on the humor here rather quickly.  They might need a little nudging, but probably not much.

So if you've got a kid, I highly recommend this fun book.  You will both be laughing before you know it at the classic comedy of Who's on First?

This book received from Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review.  A shorter version appears there.


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