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VINE VOICEon 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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VINE VOICEon July 4, 2015
This picture book is appealing for all ages and would make a perfect Father's Day gift. Even if Father's Day has passed when you read this, John Martz's illustrated Who's on First would make a nice complement to attending a summer baseball game, perhaps especially with Grandpa.

My kids and I watched one of Abbott & Costello's original 1930s performances, then we read this book together. In fact, the visual aids ("Who" is a worm, "What" is a dog, "I Don't Know" is a chicken, etc.) will help kids "get" the hilariousness, even while Costello (here a white rabbit) continues to be perplexed. Of course this is a shortened version of the full skit.

The endpapers are boring but at least consistent with the solid pastel backgrounds throughout the book. Also would have liked a colophon more substantial than "Printed in China."
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on August 6, 2013
I bought a few copies of this book for nieces & nephews to read together at a family reunion. They had a good time playing the parts. It is condensed a little bit from the full sketch, leaving out the part with "When you pay the players, Who gets the money?" "Right, every dollar of it. Sometimes his wife picks it up" "Who's wife?" "Yes."
There may be some other omissions I didn't catch, but if you want a book that little kids will like to read aloud, buy this. Better yet, buy a pair.
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VINE VOICEon 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. The only "risk" concerns whether the book will secure the child's concentration long enough to produce surprise, frustration, discovery, "talking back" and all of the other signs showing that genuine understanding is taking place. To that end, the writer has employed techniques like repetition and provided extra bits of information to assist the young reader in figuring out what is essentially a "game," or a "puzzle," requiring a solution (at which point, you'll know you've found the "right time" for introducing this "fun" book that is also potentially a powerful learning tool.

[At the risk of "over-intellectualizing" the book, I'll provide a quick professional linguist-educator's perspective. The key to the systematic study of language (advanced linguistics) is an understanding that: 1. The "signifier" and the "signified" (or the word and the thing it refers to) is "arbitrary." There is no logical, or "natural," relationship between the two. A chair could have as easily been named a table; a table, a chair; a kangaroo could be named "potty"; a potty, a kangaroo. Rather than each word representing a one-of-a-kind event, it's part of a "system" of meaning that is the result of human consciousness and its unique language-making capacity. It's this property of language that makes possible the systematic study of language, but, more importantly, it's the key to human beings' capacity for abstract thinking--for naming things not immediately "present" to sensory experience. In other words, language is less a "name" for the thing than a "symbol" of it. When I get this far with a class of college students, I introduce them to the next step in understanding language as the key to human identity and to "thought": 2. Every "signified" in turn becomes a "signifier," leading to limitless discoveries, inventions, and progress--in an individual's development as well as a people's. But before getting ahead of ourselves, let's see how much mileage we can get from sharing this book with the curious, inquisitive mind of a child (when the going seems uphill, I always remind myself that every single child, every human being (even those who won't admit it), desires "knowledge" (which should never be mistaken for the "information" that threatens to overwhelm us wherever we turn).
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on November 23, 2015
My brother-in-law was trying to teach this old routine to my nephew and this book makes it easier for kids to understand. It's also just plain fun! If you want a fun, more interactive book to read with your child, or they just like jokes and/or baseball, this is a great book!
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on July 30, 2015
I wanted to share this routine with my 8 y/o grandson. We laughed and laughed - and then there is a link in the Kindle version to a video of the routine by Abbott and Costello. A great way to pass humor on to the next generation.
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on June 19, 2013
I remember seeing Abbott & Costello doing this so well. It is one of the best skits ever. The picture book will be very fun to share with little ones who aren't familiar with the real thing. Be sure to find a clip of Abbott & Costello doing it to share too!
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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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on January 5, 2015
Totally the bomb! If you loved Abbot and Costello you'll love this book. It's so fun reading through the actual script and realizing how hard it is to get the timing right. The cartoons make the book fun for children and the script is hilarious for adults.
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