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Martha Walks the Dog


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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.


In this fourth book of Meddaugh's Martha series, the mild-mannered pooch who derives the power of speech from alphabet soup takes herself for a stroll. When someone calls her a "good dog," she ingenuously replies, "What other kind of dog is there?" She soon has her answer when she meets Bob, a hulking, bearlike mutt who viciously barks at passers-by. Bob's bearded owner is "just as ferocious," berating his pet with the words, "Bad dog Bob! Bad dog!" She moves on to another neighbor's yard, where she teaches a parrot to call her a "good dog." Martha's big mouth gets her into trouble when she returns to lecture Bob, not realizing that he has broken free of his thick metal chain. Fortunately, he chases Martha into the parrot's yard, where the magic words‘"good dog!"‘save Martha from certain doom. As in previous volumes, Meddaugh carries much of the story forward through dialogue that appears in hand-lettered voice bubbles, and her illustrations winningly convey the characters' personalities. The golden-brown, thick-waisted heroine's deep sincerity, with her drooping ears and expressive eyes, balance her comical self-righteous streak. The lunging, growling Bob is genuinely scary, but compliments tame his anger and smooth his shaggy coat. Young animal lovers should be warned that not every snarling bad dog can be as miraculously transformed as Bob into an earnest good dog. Nevertheless, Meddaugh successfully sends the message that pets (and their owners) respond best to kindness. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

K-Gr 3-Martha the talking dog has yet another adventure. This time, the loquacious canine has the unfortunate experience of having a noisy neighbor move in with his bad dog. Bob is always barking and his owner is always screaming at him. When the offensive animal starts to pick on the neighborhood dogs, Martha speaks up. A beautifully creative name-calling chase ensues. "You mangy mongrel/crummy cur/big baboon," she taunts. However, she later finds that a talking parrot's praise is far more effective at controlling the bully's behavior, and his owner learns to calm him with sweet talk. The story ends, "Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Everything about the book is extremely well done, from the story line to the illustrations and presentation. The drawings are colorful and full of emotion, showing a wide range of feelings in the canine and human faces. Another great story in a great tradition.-Shelley Woods, Boston Public Library, MA

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