Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With the arrival of Martha, Lassie had best look to her canine laurels. This scintillating story weighs the pros and cons of owning a loquacious pet. Thanks to the apparently magical properties of alphabet soup, unassuming mutt Martha is transformed into the Mr. Ed of the canine world. Unfortunately, the novelty for her human family wears off in a hurry: Martha blabs non-stop and commits numerous gaffes--telling one visitor, ``Mom said that fruitcake you sent wasn't fit for a dog. But I thought it was delicious.'' Meddaugh's ( The Witches' Supermarket ; Tree of Birds ) quirky take on the anthropomorphic pooch proves uproarious. Droll illustrations capture Martha's guileless expressions, her joy at the mastery of speech and her hurt feelings after she's commanded to pipe down. The book may be difficult to read aloud because Martha's not-to-be-missed comments, separate from the main narrative, interrupt the tale's flow. Still, anyone who's ever wondered what their pets are thinking will enjoy this imaginative book, its tactless but lovable main character and its triumphant ending. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
"Bright with watercolor washes, the cartoon-like ink drawings ensure that book's immediate appeal... A hysterical tail - er, tale."
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
In this sequel to Martha Speaks, Martha, the talking dog, enters contests and wins a weekend for 4 at the Come-On-Inn. Big Problem! No Dogs Allowed! Disguised as 'grandma,' confined to a wheelchair, Martha orders room service. Chicken and steak bones soon litter the room. The maid, seeing the bones, suspects that the sleeping dog has eaten 'grandma.' A hilarious ending with Martha having the last word!
Children's Literature - Lee A. Snodgrass
The day Martha the dog eats alphabet soup is a day that her human family soon regrets. The letters from the soup travel to Martha's brain, instead of her stomach, enabling her to talk. This amusing premise sets up a delightful tale of a talking dog and her weary owners. After the novelty wears off, the family's patience is sorely tried as Martha talks incessantly through their favorite television shows, orders pizza without permission, and blurts out the truth at the most awkward moments. A lesson in tactfulness and manners is cleverly hidden in the silliness of the text. It isn't until Martha calls the police and thwarts a burglary attempt that she is lauded for being the truly amazing dog that she is. The cartoon-like bubbles containing Martha's dialogue (in itself very funny) and likeable watercolor drawings make this a winner. The text is witty and wry, in keeping with the book's content. New York Times Best Illustrated Book and an ALA Notable Book for Children.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Those who fell in love with Susan Meddaugh's Martha, the talking hound in Martha Speaks will welcome the sequel, Martha Calling with open hearts. Talented Martha, who catches a Frisbee and talks with the same amount of ease, wins a phone contest that earns her family a wonderful weekend at a resort that doesn't allow dogs. Meddaugh's spirited writing is infectious, even her characters respond with playful good-humor and creatively handle the silly situations that arise. Hidden within this hilarious tale are messages about prejudice and family love so strong that it changes rules.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-- Martha, a mutt, begins to speak after her young owner slips her a bowl of alphabet soup. She speaks, and speaks, and speaks, until Helen tells her, ``Sometimes I wish you had never learned to talk.'' Martha is devastated, and her withdrawal is alleviated only when she has the opportunity to save her family from a robbery. The pranks in between, including accepting pizza deliveries and phoning for a huge order of barbecue, add to the loopy, incongruous humor. Casual ink-line-and-watercolor cartoons are punctuated by dialogue balloons. In several places, Martha's hand-printed monologue overruns the pages. For reading aloud, the balloons can be included or omitted without damaging the sense of the story. A comparable tale about an unusual pet is Tomi Ungerer's Crictor (HarperCollins, 1958). Any preschool audience and most independent readers will yelp with laughter at this light, funny entertainment. --Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
When Helen feeds her dog alphabet soup, the letters gravitate to Martha's brain instead of her stomach. Suddenly, Martha can talk. She answers all the questions her owners have wondered about for years, such as "Why don't you come when we call?" "You people are always so bossy. COME! SIT! STAY! You never say please." They enjoy using her ability to surprise the neighbors and the pizza delivery man, but once Martha turns on the tap, there's no turning it off. She talks incessantly, alternately boring her owners to distraction with her chatter, infuriating them by using the telephone to order cases of meat, and alarming them by making dangerously tactless remarks to hefty strangers. Kids, who know what it's like to get in trouble for telling the truth, will sympathize with Martha in the family confrontation that follows, and they'll find her eventual vindication all the sweeter for her suffering. Bright with watercolor washes, the cartoonlike ink drawings ensure the book's immediate appeal; Martha's ballooned babblings are just as funny in the fourth reading as the first. A hysterical tail--er, tale.
What a dog! Martha was introduced in "Martha Speaks" (1992), in which she swallows a can of alphabet soup. The letters go to her brain instead of her stomach, Martha starts talking, and now she won't shut up: "Me . . . meat . . . meatloaf, I like those words." But there are three words Martha hates, "No Dogs Allowed." When Martha wins a trip to the Come-On-Inn, the family have to dress her as their grandmother to avoid the no-pets rule. Martha makes a few faux pas like jumping up to catch a Frisbee, but mostly she remains undercover--and bored. With nothing to do, she orders in a pile of meat from room service and becomes so sleepy and bloated that when she's spotted by guests, someone yells, "A dog has eaten Grandma!" The commotion raises Martha from her stupor, and she makes an impassioned plea: "No Dogs Allowed! I can't believe it! Dogs have been by your side since you were in caves . . . and we still can't go into a restaurant and order a steak." The guests are moved. The Come-On-Inn changes policy, changes its name to the Sit-n-Stay Inn, and now pets are allowed, and business is "grreat!" The bright cartoon-style art is incredibly clever, both in execution and the way Meddaugh uses balloons to convey textual asides. A droll doggie delight that isn't just for the picture-book crowd.