A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the first book in the Martha series, and the one on which the PBS TV series is based. Parents who are OK with talking dogs will appreciate the lesson, which is basically one about learning what to say and when to say it -- a fun way for kids to learn vocabulary, and manners.
What's the story?
Most parents can hardly wait for their children to speak their first words. When kids start stringing sentence after sentence together, though, parents often long for a minute or two of quiet, especially when what is said is not exactly appropriate for the moment. Amazingly, that is exactly what happens with Martha. When she is accidentally fed a bowl of alphabet soup, this floppy, friendly family dog magically begins to speak. What is exciting at first becomes almost too much, and does get Martha, and her family, into some rather embarrassing situations.
Is it any good?
Though the basic premise here is rather unbelievable, the story is clever, Martha is lovable, and the emotions conveyed will feel all too real to most readers. How many times have most of us said something we wish we hadn't, or hurt someone's feelings without thinking when we blurted out the wrong word or two? Martha's story covers it all. It's not only the tale of a rather ordinary dog with amazing abilities, but more importantly one of learning the importance of saying the right thing at the right time, whether the speaker is canine or human. Kids who like talking animals will love this book, and they will relate to Martha as well as to the kids in the family. They will also enjoy the other Martha books and the PBS program based on Martha's adventures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Martha got the power to speak, and whether or not such a thing is really possible. Could feeding dogs alphabet soup really change the way they communicate? How do dogs really let you know what they want? Why do dogs seem to understand when we tell them to sit or stay? What do you think your pet would say if he suddenly could use human words?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love dogs
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.