HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Best of Kin Hubbard: Abe Martin’s Sayings and Wisecracks, Abe’s Neighbors, His Almanack, Comic Drawings
Author: David S. Hawkes, Editor
Illustrator: Kin Hubbard
Publisher: Indiana University Press, republished in 1995
ISBN-13: 978-0253106117 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0253106117 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0253210074 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0253210070 Paperback
Related website: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hawkes, David S., Editor. The Best of Kin Hubbard: Abe Martin’s Sayings and Wisecracks, Abe’s Neighbors, His Almanack, Comic Drawings (published in 1984 and republished in 1995 by Indiana University Press, 601 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN 47404). Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard (1868-1930) was an American caricaturist and humorist who was born in Bellefontaine, OH. His father was editor and publisher of the Bellefontaine Examiner. After quitting school at age thirteen and bouncing around at several jobs, he left Bellefontaine in 1899 at age 31 for a job as a reporter-sketch artist in Indianapolis, IN, with the Indianapolis Sun. Two years later he moved to the Indianapolis News. In 1904, he began daily drawings of a clown-like, rustic character named Abe Martin who lived in the fictional town of Bloom Center located in southern Indiana’s really existing Brown County and who made humorous observations about life. These continued for 26 years.
A couple of years later, Kin decided to capitalize on Abe’s popularity and began publishing a series of annual almanac-like books containing collections of Abe’s sayings, totaling 25 in all. In 1910, the Abe Martin cartoons and epigrams were syndicated nationally in over 300 newspapers after the well-known Hoosier humorist George Ade wrote about them in the American Magazine. The next year, Kin started writing a weekly series of comic essays known as “Short Furrows” which featured stories about Abe as a “cracker-barrel philosopher,” along with others of his friends and neighbors, and these too were soon syndicated. After Hubbard’s sudden death at age 62 from a heart attack, the state of Indiana decided to honor him by naming the new lodge being built in Brown County State Park near Nashville, IN, after Abe Martin.
This hilarious volume, which I picked up at the Abe Martin Lodge gift shop in Brown County State Park while there on a family reunion, is divided into two parts. Editor David S. Hawes, a Professor Emeritus of Theatre and Drama at Indiana University, relates in Part One the life story of Kin Hubbard, including the birth and development of Abe Martin, and then provides in Part Two a sample of Abe’s very best sayings, wisecracks, neighbors, almanacks, and comic drawings, supposedly taken from the Bloom Center Weekly Sliphorn. For example, “When a feller says, ‘It hain’t th’ money, but th’ principle o’ th’ thing, it’s the money.” And, “It’s no disgrace t’ be poor, but it might as well be.” The kind of home-spun humor of a by-gone era in this book would probably be absolutely lost on a majority of younger people today who likely think only in terms of modern, crass, stand-up comics, but I found it funny and enjoyed reading it.