Monday, March 05, 2012

Beware of the Curse! Good Luck, Martha by Susan Meddaugh and Karen Barss

Helen and Carolina are going to the movies. "It's called The Curse of the Cursed," Carolina tells Martha.

"Are you going to a movie with bad words in it?" Martha asks.

Patiently, owner Helen explains to her talking dog that a curse is a wishing for bad luck for someone and points out a ladder left standing in front of a store, saying that there is a superstition that walking under a ladder is bad luck and that a superstition is something that is not real, like magic.

Martha is not worried.

She walks back and forth under the ladder.

But then ... oops! She bumps into it.

The bucket of paint spills.

Yikes! Green paint in the face and an encounter with a scrub brush and bathtub are not Martha's idea of good luck. Helen tries to point out that accidents happen, but then, freed from the suds, Martha exuberantly wags her tail and knocks a hand mirror onto the floor. Carolina points out that now she's going to have seven years of bad luck.

That's 49 dog years! Martha thinks.

And then Martha seems to be really under the curse of bad luck. T.D.'s kite gets stuck in a tree when Martha turns up; Mom's flower shop plants suddenly have the wilts when she walks by, Dad's bus has a flat tire just as she visits, and even Baby Jake takes a tumble when she enters the room. Roller skaters hit the sidewalk, and busboys drop stacks of plate around her, and Martha fears that with her around, her family is going to be hopelessly jinxed forever. What's a loyal mutt to do?

Martha runs away and hides in an alley, where her bad luck holds. It starts to rain on her homeless head.

Will Helen find her jinxed pet? Will she be able to convince Martha that she's just a victim of random circumstance, not bad karma?

Susan Meddaugh's just-published beginning readers' entry, Martha Speaks: Good Luck, Martha! (Reader) (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) takes Martha through her paces, this time plumbing the secrets of happenstance, circumstance, and superstition, in easy vocabulary, short sentences and limited text while telling a comic story of PBS's popular talking pooch.

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