Saturday, April 14, 2018

Book Review: Martha Speaks (shelter dog, TV show, girls) A Classic

Martha Speaks (Puppy Dog Tales Collection) by Susan Meddaugh (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015 [2010, 2013], 304 pages, $8.99, ages 6-9, grades 1-4)

Yes, Martha Speaks! And Walks the Dog

Martha, as we all know, is a former shelter dog now belonging to 10-year-old Helen (two ‘girl’ protagonists – yippy skippy!) who once slurped a bowl of alphabet soup: the letters traveled to her brain instead of her stomach, thus enabling her to speak and she loves to speak and speak and speak!

On TV, Too!

The Martha stories began in 1992 with a series of tales by Susan Meddaugh which turned into an American-Canadian series of children’s educational TV shows. Each show focuses painlessly on vocabulary and synonyms without interrupting the flow of the story. Martha and Helen (another little red-haired girl!) live in Wagstaff City (thinly disguised take-off of Flagstaff, AZ). The TV shows ran from 2008-2014.

Read, Read, Read All About It

As you know, DogEvals is all about reading good books about dogs and to our dogs. We champion not only children reading more but more adults reading – and it’s OK to start with children’s books! Martha makes that effortless – and may just bring back memories to share with your kids!

Watch Martha, Too!

Martha, a little bit chunky, is available on DVDs, on YouTube with more than 200 stories, and – she has her own webpage here on PBS Kids.

Hidden Learning
In 2010, the Martha Speaks books (and DVDs)were published, and include 24-page readers, chapter books, and a picture book. This title, Puppy Dog Tales, contains three Martha chapter books with plenty of illustrations. 

A Pup’s Tale tells how Martha came to be a bungling thief, a shelter pup and then was saved for Helen. 

Shelter Dog Blues is the story of how Martha landed back in the shelter and broke out again with her new friends. 

And, So You Want to be a Dog? is all about science experiments - turning dogs into humans and humans into dogs with new words like hypothesis.
Martha Speaks (Puppy Dog Tales Collection)

Each of the three books in this book ends with a one-page glossary. Other features include an ASPCA page about adopting a dog, how to start a drawn photo album of your life, and how to conduct an experiment on being a dog for a day. Fill in the blanks to get started writing your own biography and use the vocabulary words, in the blanks given, to write and continue a ‘Helen’ story – and then a silly one! You can even paper-fold a dog!

Best of All

Martha is a family dog who gets into and out of trouble. Even though Martha is a girl-dog, boys identify with her and so will you – love her, that is.

But, Who is Skits?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cuddle Clones: "Where Our Friends Take Shape"

Will the Real Dog Please Stand Up?

Yesterday DogEvals wrote all about Cuddle Clones. Today, as promised, we give the top ten reasons to get a Cuddle Clone.

Top Ten Reasons to get a Cuddle Clone

10. Your dog is so cute or unique looking that you must clone him immediately.

9. You can’t find a unique gift for that crazy dog-loving friend? Cuddle Clones make great gifts for dog lovers – and even cat lovers and horse lovers and . . . . rabbit and guinea pig lovers.

8. Your dog has passed away and you miss hugging him.

7. You must have every pet product known on Earth!

6. Your daughter can’t bear to leave her best friend behind when she leaves for college or the military.

5. You lost the dog custody battle in a break-up.

4. You love to support a pet-friendly business that is devoted to having a positive impact on the pet community.

3. You’ve wanted to scientifically clone your dog for some time now but can’ quite afford the $50,000 price tag.

2. Cuddle Clones can go places real pets can’t go: work, vacation, the grocery store, nursing home.

1.     You want to memorialize all the pets you’ve fallen in love with over the years.

Go for it! You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What is a Cuddle Clone?

Cuddle Clones: “Where Our Friends Take Shape”

So, there I was, snowed-in, catching up on several years of reading my old college alumni magazines when I came across a paragraph (in a Spring 2015 magazine) about Jennifer Graham Williams (’00, University of Puget Sound), founder and CCO (chief cloning officer) of Cuddle Clones.

Intrigued because I am a dog person, I checked out the website. And love it! I want a Cuddle Clone!

What is a Cuddle Clone?

Cuddle Clones creates soft, adorable, customized plush versions of people’s pets – stuffed animals or ‘stuffies.’

What a great idea, IF they are truly look-alikes. And they are!

Can you tell the difference? We can’t.

 Accessories, Anyone?

How about outfitting your stuffie with a new collar or hoodie or T-shirt? You can do that, too.


Just send in a photo of your loved one. You can also select the ears – up, folded or floppy; the mouth – open or closed; sitting, lying down or standing, and more. Or order a sandstone figurine or ornament or bedroom slippers or jewelry. The possibilities are endless.

Anything Else?

YES! Cats, too!
Cuddle Clones also donates to pet causes around the world, such as Dogs on Deployment: Support Your Troops by Boarding Their Pets.

 Next: Top Ten Reasons to get a Cuddle Clone!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review: Ranger in Time- D-Day: Battle on the Beach (golden retriever, Jewish boy, black soldier, barrage balloons)

Ranger in Time (D-Day: Battle on the Beach) by Kate Messner (Scholastic Books, 2018, 119+ pages, $5.99, appeals to grades 3-4, reading level: grade 4)

Far Fetched?

Ah, to make history painless! The best way is to live it!

As a too-bookish girl in the 1950s, I read all 19 Little Maid books (by Alice Turner Curtis) at a friend’s house (Little Maid of Quebec, Little Maid of Maryland, Little Maid of South Carolina, etc.). They were the precursor of the American Girl series of books, dolls, and other paraphernalia. The Little Maids were written mostly in the 20s and 30s (or earlier) but I devoured them.

Living history books that come alive, both terrifying and thrilling, also include the I Survived series and the well-known Magic Treehouse series with Jack and Annie.

Of course, had the Ranger series been written earlier, I would have read and kept all seven of them, eagerly awaiting the next one to come out.

Who is Ranger?

Ranger, a golden retriever who lives with Sadie and Luke, went through training to become a search and rescue dog but. . . . life has other plans for our Ranger Dog.

Ranger uncovers a ‘magic’ first aid kit (FAK) to wear around his neck and when it hums, Ranger is transported back in time to save the day (usually a boy and and adult – two stories woven together). When Ranger’s work is done, the FAK again hums and transports him back home with no one the wiser, except our hero-dog.

The D-Day book stars Leo, a little Jewish boy ‘in hiding’ with a local farmer in France, and Walt, a black American soldier, both of whom live discrimination. Bombs abound, along with stationary landmines that Ranger has to smell out and lead the soldiers around on the beach. Plus the reader learns about barrage balloons the Americans set aloft to fool the Nazi pilots.

Everyone Could Use a Ranger

“Ranger didn’t know what Leo was saying, but he understood that sometimes people just needed to talk. They didn’t expect you to understand or answer. Luke did that sometimes, especially when he was sad or scared. When Leo finally curled up and closed his eyes, Ranger snuggled close beside him. . . . he stayed awake all night long. . . . Maybe then, Ranger’s work would be done. . . .” (p. 105)

“Ranger nuzzled Leo’s shoulder. The boy smelled like sand and salt and sweat. Also, cat.” (p. 110)

With a thrill a minute, the Ranger books could easily be transformed into a feature-length cartoon or, possibly, a movie. Each book cover has Ranger running straight out of the book into the arms of the young reader, with a background that illustrates that particular title.

Ranger the Retriever – An Excellent Read!

Excellent stories that kids love but kids have told me some drawings of Ranger seem a bit weird (especially his eyes).