Throwback Thursday--Before Martha Made the Big Time! The Witches' Supermarket by Susan Meddaugh
"I JUST LOVE HALLOWEEN!" SAID HELEN TO HER DOG MARTHA.
"I'M SORRY YOU DON'T LIKE YOUR COSTUME," HELEN SAID, "BUT WITCHES HAVE CATS, NOT DOGS.
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT."
Before Martha the Talking Dog became a picture book heroine and a media star of PBS Kids' Martha Speaks cartoon series, before she had a retinue of supporting characters and dozens of spin-off books, she was just a dog.
Seriously. Before Martha acquired a taste for alphabet soup and acquired her famous non-stop verbiage, she was just a plump pooch, playing a supporting part in a charming little Halloween saga starring Helen, her owner, in a plot in which (horrors!) Martha even has to play the part of a .... CAT!
It is Halloween, and Helen, dressed in a ragged black dress and tall peaked hat, sets out for an evening of trick-or-treat. To fit the occasion, her dog Martha is forced, under duress, to dress in a black cat costume, complete with pointy ears. Martha scares herself in the mirror when she sees her ignoble attire, but being a good dog, she plods, hangdog, along behind Helen down the street. A dumpy lady in a purple coat ahead of them drops a piece of paper, and Helen picks it up. It reads...
ONE FREE BROOM! OCTOBER 31 ONLY!
Trying to catch the lady and return her coupon, Helen (and Martha) follow the rumpled figure into a narrow alley and through a door. The door is plastered with signs:
TRESPASSERS WILL BE SORRY
NO DOGS ALLOWED
Should Helen go in? If we want a story she should.
Figuring Martha is technically a cat for the evening, Helen leads her into what appears to be an average supermarket. She plops Martha into a cart and hurries after the old lady. Only Martha seems to notice that there are black cats and crows everywhere and that the produce shelf displays poison mushrooms, hemlock, and premium apples with worms. Dashing past the cooler cases with styrofoam trays of eyes of newt and baby bats, Helen spots a purple-clad figure in the broom department, and just as she approaches her with the coupon, the lady straddles the broom and takes off for a trial run. Helen screams and Martha yelps with surprise.
The store manager bears down on them suspiciously, and Helen stammers that she is just, uh, looking for the dog food.
"DOG FOOD!" THE MANAGER SHRIEKS. "SHE'S NOT A WITCH!"
ZAM! Suddenly they are surrounded by black cats and witchy women. A flight of broomsticks is launched toward Helen and Martha. Martha holds the scary mob at bay with a persuasive GRRRRR!
HELEN SUDDENLY WANTS TO GO HOME!
Helen and Martha escape to the street, where they take cover in the dozens of little witches, cats, pumpkins and fortune-tellers out for treats, and we know it's going to be a while before Helen and Martha venture into another supermarket, in the brand-new edition of the Meddaugh's prequel to her hit Martha Speaks series, The Witches' Supermarket (8x8 with stickers) (Martha Speaks) (Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). Before her debut as talking dog, Martha was still a great dog, and though she now has her own daily show, a supporting cast of dozens of varied characters, and a media empire of artists and writers for her spinoff Easy Readers, before all those Martha Speaks books, she already had star quality, and her fans of all ages will enjoy knowing Martha before she became Big-Time Martha.