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Martha Blah Blah


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About the Author

Susan Meddaugh was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Wheaton College, where she studied French literature and fine arts. After working briefly with an advertising agency in New York, she moved to Boston and worked at a publishing company for ten years, first as a designer, then art editor, and finally as art director. While there, she did the illustrations for GOOD STONES (Houghton Mifflin) by Anne Epstein, and then decided to strike out on her own as a freelance illustrator and creator of children's books. Since that time, Susan has written and illustrated many popular books for children, including MARTHA SPEAKS, which was chosen as a NEW YORK TIMES Best Illustrated Book for 1992. In 1998 she was awarded the New England Book Award, given by the New England Booksellers Association to recognize a body of work. Her work also was acknowledged with a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. She lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts.


PreS-Gr 4-Fans of Martha Speaks (1992) and Martha Calling (1994, both Houghton) will be delighted by this third adventure of the talking canine. When Granny Flo inherits the company that makes the alphabet soup that enables Martha to speak, the woman immediately fires 13 of the 26 pasta letter makers for the sake of bigger profits. The elimination of these letters from the soup makes Martha's speech hilariously unintelligible. When the quick-thinking dog learns of the cuts from Alf Abbot (unemployed pasta man "A"), she uses her smarts to convince Granny Flo to put the missing letters back in the cans. Each brightly colored page is filled with the zaniness and dialogue balloons of the previous books. Older children will enjoy all the alphabetic wordplay and figuring out the missing letters with the help of the author's footnotes. Great fun!-Maura Bresnahan, Topsfield Town Library, MA

While Meddaugh's Martha Calling essentially reprised the hilarious Martha Speaks, this third volume teaches the talking dog new tricks. And, without losing entertainment value, it puts corporate strategies and deceptive ads in perspective for young audiences‘no mean feat. After reminding readers that Martha requires daily helpings of alphabet soup to be able to speak, Meddaugh introduces a dilemma. Granny's Soup Company has fired 13 letter-crafters to cut costs ("Why do we need all those letters? This is soup, not school!"), and the resulting broth includes only half the alphabet. Suddenly Martha begins speaking gibberish, and when she tries to use the phone or order burgers at a drive-through, humans regard her with amusement, not amazement. Shocked, the chatty canine realizes that she's about to become "just another dog, scratching on the door to go out." Meddaugh appends asterisks to Martha's attempts to talk, helpfully translating "Wogo!" as "My words are gone!" Then, after building suspense with a careful balance of text, cartoons and voice-bubbles, the author-illustrator solves the predicament in a shrewd, witty way. The workers return to their jobs, the missing letters are restored and Martha learns that her family loves her, voice or no voice. Souperb. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

"Martha becomes a victim of corporate downsizing in the most inspired book yet about this talking dog. . . . This latest entry is a superb blend of humor, pathos, and Martha's brave panache." Horn Book, Starred

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