The Fabulous Four

beatles were fab_hresThe Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)
By Kathleeen Krull and Paul Brewer
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
(Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013, Boston, $16.99)

Part of the joy of music is sharing it with others, particularly the next generation. In The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny), Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer, and illustrator Stacy Innerst introduce young readers to The Beatles.

While the picture-book biography touches on the musicians’ talent and working-class origins, Krull and Brewer emphasize the role laughter played in their creative process and trajectory to fame. Readers see John, Paul, George, and Ringo chuckling over reporters’ questions, their own popularity, and the jelly beans fans pelted at the stage. To show the Fab Four’s humor, the authors include the musicians’ quips and indulge in some lively wordplay of their own: “Nothing rattled Ringo, even rude questions about his large nose.”

Innerst’s illustrations capture the young Beatles’ sense of fun. Although they never descend into caricature, his portraits of the four are amusing and quickly recognizable. The sources of their humor – a producer’s tacky tie, reporters’ foolish questions – often assume a prominent place in the book’s spreads. On occasion, Innerst’s paintings flirt with surrealism, presaging the band’s later work, even specific songs. A yellow blimp – or is that a submarine? – hovers above their native Liverpool. In another spread, the gaping, disembodied mouths of fans scream after them as jelly beans strike the band’s retreating car.

The Beatles Were Fab is a fun and fitting tribute to the lads from Liverpool. Parents, grandparents, and other adults will enjoy sharing this picture-book biography with kids, perhaps accompanied by a few of their favorite Beatles tracks.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

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