Reviews for Who's on First?

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Straight man Abbott is a tall brown bear and befuddled Costello is a short white bunny in this picture-book adaptation of the 1930s comedy routine. Martz alters the text very little and includes speech balloons, panels, and changing perspectives to maintain the story's pace and add clarity for young readers discovering this famous baseball comedy sketch for the first time.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #1
One of the funniest comedy routines ever to be heard doesn't successfully translate to print although nearly every word is intact. Abbott appears as a red-nosed bear, and Costello is a hapless rabbit, with both creatures dressed in striped shirts and red baseball caps. The dialogue is variously presented in word bubbles, boxes or "shouted" in explosive, full-page format, with all the text in sizes appropriate to the characters' levels of frustration. Superbright green, yellow, red and blue backgrounds make it all pop. But in book form, the dialogue comes off as merely amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, partly since in its original form it was completely auditory. The two men delivered the lines in fast-paced, smartly timed patter with voice inflections indicating annoyance, anger, impatience or resignation. The fun was in the misunderstanding of the wordplay. While Martz's cartoon animals indicate their emotions in their body language and facial expressions, it's just a little flat. In addition, depicting each player as an animal (Who is a snake, What is a dog, etc.) makes it possible for readers to actually visualize a "real" team and diminishes the wordplay. To work at all, it must be read aloud in two distinct, enthusiastic voices so young readers can share the experience. Not up to the original--leave it on the shelf and find a recording of the real Abbott and Costello. (afterword, biographical notes) (Picture book. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #3

"Who's On First?" is one of the crown jewels of our comedic cultural heritage, so a tip of the hat to Martz (Dear Flyary) for introducing a new generation to its glories. With source material so good, can any adaptation live up to expectations? Maybe not, but Martz does a solid job of translating the skit to picture book form. Abbott's players with "some funny names" receive actual personas (Who is a snake, What is a blue dog, I Don't Know is a chicken), and Martz breaks down the story into comics-style framing and speech bubbles. The rapid-fire rapport between Costello (a plump white rabbit) and Abbott (a big brown bear) is drained of some of its manic energy, and Martz's stylized digital characterizations also dial down the real joy (and meta-meaning) of the skit: Costello's high-pitched, escalating agitation in the face of Abbott's gravel-voiced rationality and authority. So here's the plan: play one of the many versions of the skit available online. Once those amazing voices and rhythms are ingrained in readers' minds, read the book aloud. And be prepared to turn the pages--fast. Ages 7-up. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

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, MD

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