In the last 10 years or more, author-illustrator Susan Meddaugh has created a strong career for herself as the beloved writer of a wildly popular series of children’s books called Martha Speaks. Elementary school-aged children have grown with Meddaugh’s main character, a conversational canine named Martha whose candid discussions can get her into hot water.
In the fifth story of the Martha Speaks series titled Martha and Skits, Meddaugh introduces a new character to pal around with Martha, whether she likes it or not. A brown puppy named Skits is brought into the family’s home and that’s where the hilarity begins. Usually it’s our hero getting into trouble, but this time it’s Skits who destroys household objects, attacks a vacuum cleaner, and jumps off anything that can make him airborne! Even with all this trouble and the spilling of her daily portion of alphabet soup (the reason why Martha is able to speak), it doesn’t take long for our lovable hero to befriend the mischievous puppy.
The title character can’t figure out why the soup doesn’t have the same effect on Skits as it does for her but she soon realizes that maybe speaking isn’t his talent. Using all of her talents, Meddaugh investigates puppy behavior through this comical tale that follows Skits from a puppy to a full-grown dog. His amusing behavior contrasts sharply with Martha’s pragmatic side. Martha and Skits slowly becomes a book about two dogs working as a team, rather than just focusing on our normal hero.
Meddaugh continues her artful use of watercolor and ink to create the dog’s world and narrative that accompanies it. There are strong colors and sharp contrasts in these mostly borderless illustrations, which are unlike anything else you see on the bookshelves these days. These illustrations are certainly befitting of a dog that has extraordinary abilities.
Although it’s geared for a younger crowd, children ages 4 to 8, anyone who reads this story will be charmed by the dynamic of the canine heroin and her sidekick. Martha and Skits is filled with 32 pages of smiles and giggles and an interesting look into the interaction of two dogs. This book is a great addition to Meddaugh’s Martha Speaks series.