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Who's on First? Hardcover – February 19, 2013

59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 4-Abbott and Costello's beloved comedy routine receives a picture-book treatment, complete with comical illustrations. A tall brown bear plays the coach (Abbott), a chubby white bunny plays the catcher (Costello), and they go back and forth about the oddly named members of their baseball team. "Who's on first. What's on second. I Don't Know's on third." Martz's expressive characters cavort on backgrounds that pop with appealing color. Clever page formatting conveys the pacing that is such an integral part of the laughs. At bottom, though, "Who's on First?" is about auditory humor, so the translation to a visual medium, while it may illuminate the jokes for kids, can't quite capture the magic of the original. Historical notes about the comedians and their routine appear at the end of the book.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

This famously hilarious Abbott and Costello routine will have adults laughing even before their kids get into the swing. When a new catcher, a white rabbit, is hired for the baseball team, he asks the coach, a brown bear, the names of the other players. So comes the classic response: “Who’s on first. What’s on second. I Don’t Know’s on third.” Confusion reigns as the banter between coach and catcher gets sillier and sillier with each new question and answer. The supercute cartoon illustrations, arranged in both panels and strips against solid backgrounds, only intensify the zaniness. The extended joke could just as easily have been accomplished in 32 pages instead of 40, but, nevertheless, this version easily bats a triple. The idea of turning a comedy sketch into a picture book is a fine one, and one wonders what imitators might be next. Grades K-3. --Cummins, Julie

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (February 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594745900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745904
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 0.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Loralee Petersen VINE VOICE on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This delightful new picture book is based on the classic comedy routine popularized by comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in the 1930's. According to Wikipedia "In Abbott and Costello's version, the premise of the routine is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team to Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello's questions. In this context, the first baseman is named "Who"; thus, the utterance "Who's on first" is ambiguous between the question ("which person is the first baseman?") and the answer ("The name of the first baseman is 'Who'")."

In this picture book, the coach, a bear, tries to explain the baseball team's lineup to the new player, a rabbit. The characters go through the routine. The pictures are simple and comic, a perfect match to the quick, spare dialogue. At the end of the book are some brief notes about the book and links to videos of the routine online.

The "Who's on First" routine is truly timeless. There is nothing about it that feels dated or old fashioned. How wonderful that this classic piece of American humor is being given new life for a new generation to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Caruso VINE VOICE on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The quick version:
-Comedy classic for all ages
-Illustrations bring the dialogue to life for modern kids
-Illustrations make the frustration of the communication and the misunderstandings more accessible than the audio or even film/video renditions.
-Great gift for any child or parent. I'd give this as a baby gift to friends who are baseball and/or comedy fans.

"Who's On First?" by Abbott and Costello and illustrated by John Martz takes the "best comedy sketch of the 20th century" (as declared by Time Magazine) and hits it home for the kids of the 21st century.

"Who's On First?" is a classic sketch comedy bit that I had heard many times throughout my childhood and as an adult who requires captions all every TV or movie I watch, it's no surprise that this picture book edition of that classic would appeal to me but it also appeals to my child who has auditory processing glitches as well and nearly everything he does we have to put into written, tangible form for him to really comprehend the information so he can respond to it.

The illustrations are clear, concise, cheerful and the graphics are simple and bold and allow the confusion of the dialogue to be clearly mapped out and accessible. It's a joy to share this with my son and watch as he can finally appreciate the back and forth and the frustration present in other presentation formats (audio/film/video) but not completely clear to some folks with auditory challenges or folks who are very rigid and rule based and interpret things very literally.

I love Who's On First now more than I did before I had this visual map of it that John Martz provides and it's pretty fantastic that it honors the brilliance of Abbott & Costello while helping a whole new generation of youngsters (and a few of us older "kids" too) to really get the joke.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
[Since writing the following, I've read this with my grand-daughter (on her 7th birthday). Even though she had been preoccupied with an IPod and LeapPad, she immediately took to playing the role of Abbott as we read through the whole routine. Then she asked to read it again, this time assuming the role of Costello. Then she wanted to do it one more time, inviting a friend to join her this time. I can't say for sure that she "caught on" to the joke at the verbal level, but more importantly she became "caught up" in the fun of reading it, especially when the adults in attendance kept laughing at the joke. This experience would not have been possible with my iPod Touch 5g.]

Like perhaps most other readers, I was initially attracted to this title because of fond memories of the original Bud and Lou routine. It was only when I thought beyond the comedy bit's original entertainment value that I became genuinely excited about the book's potential as a measurement of a child's learning capacity and, perhaps more importantly, as a highly useful tool for unlocking and increasing that capacity.

First, it's probably a good idea to accept the possibility that the book will not immediately appeal to (let alone engage) its intended audience (child or grandchild). For the book to serve as a "key" to high-level thinking in a young reader, it's critical that it be introduced at just the "right" stage in the child's intellectual development (if not this year, or month, perhaps next.)

The writer, illustrator and publisher have gone out of their way to produce a book that's bright and colorful enough to compete with a video screen and appeal to perhaps the majority of young readers.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The "Who's on First" comedy sketch by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello was rightfully picked by Time Magazine as "the best comedy sketch of the 20th century." It's hysterical; I couldn't stop laughing as I read this book! I also read it to a neighbor's young son who immensely enjoyed it. The sketch itself may have varied a bit over the years but what we get here is nothing but excellent and timeless comedy. Moreover, the illustrations by John Martz really impress me; he draws so well and his use of color enhances the book quite a bit. Martz puts his own little stamp on the skit by drawing Bud Abbott as a big bear and Lou Costello as a rabbit. There are baseball field drawings so that younger children can understand that the wordplay does actually refer to different people playing baseball (although here they are portrayed as animals and it works well).

Amazon notes that this book is for children in grades two and up. I think they're right. It's also important to note that younger kids, in addition to having some fun discovering this comedy routine, may learn some new words including some baseball terms--terrific!

All in all, this is a wonderful book for adults and children to treasure. It's a great way to pay tribute to one of the best comedy skits we'll probably ever enjoy; the book also introduces younger people to the wonderful comedy of Abbott and Costello so that this routine and their other work will never be forgotten. I highly recommend this book!
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