I remember first seeing these books while putting away returns on the children’s (a running theme, it seems). This is a series of picture books about a dog named Martha who finds herself able to speak after eating some alphabet soup.
In the first book, Martha Speaks, Martha gets her ability to talk when her owner, ten-year-old Helen, feeds her a can of alphabet soup. Something funny happens when Martha eats the soup – when the letters get to her throat, they lose their way and end up in her brain rather than her stomach. Martha and her family are shocked when she’s able to express herself!
Because Martha can talk, she loves to spend hours on the phone – talking to friends and ordering meat from the butcher. In Martha Calling, she phones in to a radio station to enter a contest, and wins a trip for the whole family to the Come-On-Inn. The only problem is that the inn doesn’t allow dogs, and so the family has to come up with a way to sneak Martha in.
In Martha Blah Blah (the cover of which I think is adorable), Martha suddenly finds that when she tries to speak, only nonsense words come out. The Granny’s Soup Company promises to include every single letter of the alphabet in every can of soup, but Martha finds out that someone has been cutting corners!
Martha and her family have new neighbours in Martha Walks the Dog – and one of those neighbours is a big, bad-tempered brute of a dog called Bob. He barks and chases everything that moves (even butterflies), and Martha has to find a way to use her words to calm him down.
And finally, in Martha and Skits, the family gets a new puppy. Anxiously they wait until he’s old enough to eat his own bowl of alphabet soup. When he does, though, everyone is disappointed to see that he can’t talk like Martha does. It takes Skits getting lost to realize what his own special talents are.
Susan Meddaugh’s books are very clever, wry, and funny, and the illustrations are really cute – Martha is a slightly rotund, slightly goofy-looking light brown dog with little brown ears. Aside from the text of the story, every character has little speech bubbles which adds a nice comic-like feel and a funny interaction between the text and the dialogue.
Also, I also really love the idea of a dog called Martha.
-posted by Kayleigh, children’s desk staff