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The Story of Dr. Dolittle, with eBook

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No one loves and understands animals like the eccentric nineteenth-century physician Dr. Dolittle—who masters animal language with the help of Polynesia the parrot. After his human patients desert him, the kind-hearted doctor finds his calling in practicing animal medicine, and his fame spreads far and wide. When a terrible epidemic breaks out among monkeys in Africa, Dr. No one loves and understands animals like the eccentric nineteenth-century physician Dr. Dolittle—who masters animal language with the help of Polynesia the parrot. After his human patients desert him, the kind-hearted doctor finds his calling in practicing animal medicine, and his fame spreads far and wide. When a terrible epidemic breaks out among monkeys in Africa, Dr. Dolittle sets out to save them, accompanied by some of his favorite pets. Thus begins the amusing, whimsical adventures of Dr. Dolittle and the animal kingdom. Hugh Lofting, winner of the 1923 Newbery Medal for The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, has a gifted knack for imbuing unique, distinct personalities in his characters—human and animal alike.


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No one loves and understands animals like the eccentric nineteenth-century physician Dr. Dolittle—who masters animal language with the help of Polynesia the parrot. After his human patients desert him, the kind-hearted doctor finds his calling in practicing animal medicine, and his fame spreads far and wide. When a terrible epidemic breaks out among monkeys in Africa, Dr. No one loves and understands animals like the eccentric nineteenth-century physician Dr. Dolittle—who masters animal language with the help of Polynesia the parrot. After his human patients desert him, the kind-hearted doctor finds his calling in practicing animal medicine, and his fame spreads far and wide. When a terrible epidemic breaks out among monkeys in Africa, Dr. Dolittle sets out to save them, accompanied by some of his favorite pets. Thus begins the amusing, whimsical adventures of Dr. Dolittle and the animal kingdom. Hugh Lofting, winner of the 1923 Newbery Medal for The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, has a gifted knack for imbuing unique, distinct personalities in his characters—human and animal alike.

30 review for The Story of Dr. Dolittle, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    Oh dear. How many of you have seen the 1967 film, or the Eddie Murphy remake, and remember this adorable childhood classic about a kindly English doctor who talks to animals? How many of you have actually read the book and know that it was really, really racist? I mean, whether you want to excuse it for the time it was written (1920) is up to you, and racism aside, it's quite a charming book with the sort of story any child would love. A nice doctor who talks to animals! And they go to Africa and Oh dear. How many of you have seen the 1967 film, or the Eddie Murphy remake, and remember this adorable childhood classic about a kindly English doctor who talks to animals? How many of you have actually read the book and know that it was really, really racist? I mean, whether you want to excuse it for the time it was written (1920) is up to you, and racism aside, it's quite a charming book with the sort of story any child would love. A nice doctor who talks to animals! And they go to Africa and save all the monkeys! And then they fight pirates! Dr. Doolittle talks to everything from dogs and pigs and mice to sharks and parrots and eagles and a two-headed Tibetan "Pushmi-Pullyu." Yes, the story was charming. I listened to it because it was another one of Audible's free downloads and I needed something to listen to while gardening. However, I think before I'd read this aloud to my child, or allow a child to read it, I'd want to have a talk about the n-word. And all the other words for black people that are used in this story. And the subplot about the black prince who's very, very sad because Sleeping Beauty was so horrified to be awoken by a black boy that she ran away and went back to sleep. So he asks Dr. Doolittle to make him white. Yeah. This is suitable for a young reader who's capable of grasping the concept of "problematic" products of their time. It was fun, even for an adult listener - it's not written for very, very young children. But it's definitely a children's story, and, uh, a product of its time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    If the only version of "Dr Dolittle" you know is Eddie Murphy's you don't know Dr Dolittle. Even if you've see the Rex Harrison musical, if you haven't read the book, you don't know Dr Dolittle. Small, tubby, and shy, Dr Dolittle is a brilliant doctor whose love of animals loses him his human patients. But after his parrot Polynesia teaches him to speak animal languages,the Doctor becomes famous in the animal world, and travels across the world and even to the moon! In this first book, the Doctor If the only version of "Dr Dolittle" you know is Eddie Murphy's you don't know Dr Dolittle. Even if you've see the Rex Harrison musical, if you haven't read the book, you don't know Dr Dolittle. Small, tubby, and shy, Dr Dolittle is a brilliant doctor whose love of animals loses him his human patients. But after his parrot Polynesia teaches him to speak animal languages,the Doctor becomes famous in the animal world, and travels across the world and even to the moon! In this first book, the Doctor and his pets sail to Africa to save the kingdom of monkeys from a plague. Be warned, there is an African prince who is depicted as childlike, and wants nothing more than to be a white man. And yes, other Dolittle books feature more childlike Africans to whom the Doctor gets to teach "civilized" ways. Yes, it's offensive. But my politically-correct-before-it-was-hip-to-be-politically-correct mom read these to me back in the (gulp)60s, and I loved them and somehow didn't grow up to be a bigot. Take them in context, or (if you must)hunt for the "revised" editions that removed some of the offensive stuff. Or start with another of my favorites in the series Doctor Dolittle's Circus

  3. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    Listened to this in the car. The kids loved it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    [Name Redacted]

    Yikes. So much racism! And not subtle, social racism, either -- not the kind we can ignore or dismiss as "unwitting symptoms of their time." This is flat-out explicit use of three of the most offensive words I've ever encountered. By the protagonists. And they're sincere. And we're not supposed to dislike them for it. Each time, I nearly put the book down, but was convinced that people had recommended it to me for a reason. As it happens, I'm now pretty sure all the people who recommended it to Yikes. So much racism! And not subtle, social racism, either -- not the kind we can ignore or dismiss as "unwitting symptoms of their time." This is flat-out explicit use of three of the most offensive words I've ever encountered. By the protagonists. And they're sincere. And we're not supposed to dislike them for it. Each time, I nearly put the book down, but was convinced that people had recommended it to me for a reason. As it happens, I'm now pretty sure all the people who recommended it to me had not read it in a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I understand that children often don't pick up on racist, sexist, etc. things, but these? Yikes. How could you not? Up until those scenes, I had quite enjoyed the book; but afterward, I only finished it because I felt like I needed to give it a shot. Those are what I will take away from the book. Interesting Note: I had never heard the word "coon" used as a racist epithet until I watched "Remember The Titans" in 2003. Where and when I grew up, that word was only a shortened form of "raccoon" and it saddens me that when I hear it as an adult, my brain now first registers it as a horrible racist term. I'm afraid to say "'coon-hunting" or "coon-skin cap" because of the terrifying images they evoke. If I had read this book as a child, I suspect its use in this book would have utterly baffled me -- given that it IS about a man who talks to various wild animals -- but as an adult it sickened me. I'm actually afraid to re-watch the old Rex Harrison film that I loved as a child. Will it also contain racism that I don't remember as being there?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    I wish I was doctor Dolittle

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marko

    This book made me fall in love with books and reading <3

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    Beautifully illustrated and revised: I presume anyone reading the reviews already is familiar with the storyline of Dr. Dolittle. I highly recommend this version with only a slight reservation (see below) because its illustration and editing would make an excellent introduction to children as well as a gift possibility and a lifelong keepsake. I heartily disagree with the reviewer who discredits this edition because it has been updated to modern civilities. The reviewer mistakenly suggests that Beautifully illustrated and revised: I presume anyone reading the reviews already is familiar with the storyline of Dr. Dolittle. I highly recommend this version with only a slight reservation (see below) because its illustration and editing would make an excellent introduction to children as well as a gift possibility and a lifelong keepsake. I heartily disagree with the reviewer who discredits this edition because it has been updated to modern civilities. The reviewer mistakenly suggests that the edition conceals that changes have been made. To the contrary, the foreword fully describes the editors' concerns for literary sensitivities as they made changes. If your purpose is to collect unabridged books, do shop elsewhere. But if you share my intent of introducing this wonderful story to children, this book serves the purpose very well. There is minimal distraction from unnecessary anachronisms. I think this edition would serve children well through elementary school. I would nominate unabridged editions for older children to help teach them about society's changing attitudes towards racism. My slight reservation (mentioned above) about this edition is that racial stereotypes do persist. In Africa, the (white) doctor is referred as "the good man" while the African king is unjust, his son is goofy, and both the king and his son are easily fooled. These characterizations ARE unavoidable without drastically changing the storyline. However, the story explains the motivation for the king's injustice and is a worthy point of discussion with a young reader.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I was never a big fan of the movie, but I can't deny that Dr. Dolittle still retains some hold on the popular imagination. Audible offered this particular edition as a free promotion this summer, which I thought was an excellent excuse to listen to this classic with my children on a road trip. I was aware of some accusations of racism going into the listen, so we had a little chat before pressing play. Things were relatively fine until our heroes got to Africa. At that point, though, my wife and I was never a big fan of the movie, but I can't deny that Dr. Dolittle still retains some hold on the popular imagination. Audible offered this particular edition as a free promotion this summer, which I thought was an excellent excuse to listen to this classic with my children on a road trip. I was aware of some accusations of racism going into the listen, so we had a little chat before pressing play. Things were relatively fine until our heroes got to Africa. At that point, though, my wife and I dropped our collective jaws at the diverse usage of racial ephithets, and at the storyline that involves an African prince wanting to become white so he can win the fair princess. To a modern audience, there is simply no excusing this. Moreover, I didn't even find the story that enjoyable, and neither did my children. There are some quality lessons—such as the need to actually listen to the needs of others, as exemplified by Dr. Dolittle taking the time to learn to talk to animals—but the narrative ended up being far too light and scattered to keep our attention. Taken together with the racist elements, this is a story that would have been better left to the warm fuzzy memories of Rex Harrison with his top hat and cane.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa (ladybug)

    Nice story about a Dr. that can talk to animals. I always thought that if I just could listen very carefully, my dogs and cats would talk to me. Sadly it never happened, but it still could one day. :D

  10. 5 out of 5

    Luisa Knight

    Have you read any of the Doctor Dolittle books? I have now read three: The Story of, The Voyages of, and Doctor Dolittle's Post Office. All were surprisingly fun! WAY better than the old Rex Harrison movie (for those of you who also thought it too long and boring as a kid 😉). And I'm not big on animal stories either, but found these to be engaging and full of wit, and not just about the animals but about the Doctor too. A good family read-aloud! Here's an interesting little excerpt about how Hugh Have you read any of the Doctor Dolittle books? I have now read three: The Story of, The Voyages of, and Doctor Dolittle's Post Office. All were surprisingly fun! WAY better than the old Rex Harrison movie (for those of you who also thought it too long and boring as a kid 😉). And I'm not big on animal stories either, but found these to be engaging and full of wit, and not just about the animals but about the Doctor too. A good family read-aloud! Here's an interesting little excerpt about how Hugh Lofting came to write the series: "During World War I he left his job as a civil engineer, was commissioned a lieutenant in the Irish Guards, and found that writing illustrated letters to his children eased the strain of war. 'There seemed to be very little to write to youngsters from the front; the news was either too horrible or too dull. One thing that kept forcing itself more and more upon my attention was the very considerable part the animals were playing in the war. That was the beginning of an idea: an eccentric country physician with a bent for natural history and a great love of pets...' These letters became The Story of Doctor Dolittle, published in 1920." Ages: 6 - 12 Cleanliness: "Good gracious," "golly," "goodness," and "Lord save us" are used. Mentions smoking a pipe, rum, tobacco, snuff, and tattoo. Someone is called a "booby." An animal hypnotizes someone in order to rescue the Doctor. **Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it! Visit my website!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This quaint children’s classic focuses on the adventures of an unassuming doctor who can speak with animals. Dr. Dolittle and his many animal companions make a voyage to Africa in this volume, in order to cure a troupe of monkeys who are suffering from a contagious disease. It was an engaging read-aloud for my son—he particularly enjoyed the part in which Dr. Dolittle commandeers a pirate ship while the pirates are raiding his own ship—but I found it problematic in a number of ways. First, let m This quaint children’s classic focuses on the adventures of an unassuming doctor who can speak with animals. Dr. Dolittle and his many animal companions make a voyage to Africa in this volume, in order to cure a troupe of monkeys who are suffering from a contagious disease. It was an engaging read-aloud for my son—he particularly enjoyed the part in which Dr. Dolittle commandeers a pirate ship while the pirates are raiding his own ship—but I found it problematic in a number of ways. First, let me say that we read the edited version, and that I would in no way recommend the original version as a read-aloud for children. (As an artifact of its time, certainly, but not for pleasure reading.) I’m not generally a fan of abridged or edited versions of books, but in this case, I consider the changes necessary to make the book appropriate for modern readers. The original version has a number of elements that are quite racist by today’s standards, reflecting the paternalistic colonial mindset of the day. The African characters are clearly meant to be sympathetic, but they come across as bumbling and foolish. For instance, in the original version, an African prince begs Dr. Dolittle to turn him into a white man so that he can marry Sleeping Beauty and not frighten her when he kisses her. In the afterword, Christopher Lofting comments in this way about the changes that were made to the text: “Is it appropriate to reissue the Doctor Dolittle books exactly as written and stand on principle at the expense of our obligation to respect the feelings of others? Should future generations of children be denied the opportunity to read the Doctor Dolittle stories because of a few minor references in one or two of the books that were never intended by the author to comment on any ethnic group, particularly when the references are not an integral or important part of the story? What should our response be when there is widespread disagreement among well-meaning parents, librarians, and teachers as to the proper action to take?... After much soul-searching the consensus was that the changes should be made. The deciding factor was the strong belief that the author himself would have immediately approved of making these alterations. Hugh Lofting would have been appalled at the suggestion that any part of his work could give offense and would have been the first to have made the changes himself. In any case, the alterations are minor enough not to interfere with the style and spirit of the original.” I am glad that these alterations were made. As a parent, I would never read my child a book in which Africans are portrayed as they were in the original version of this book. That said, I found even the edited version somewhat problematic. It still had the theme of the wise Englishman sailing to Africa in order to save the helpless local tribe (of monkeys … but still). And while the grossly offensive descriptions of the African characters were removed, the characters still came across as foolish and one-sided (though, to be fair, most of the British characters came across as rather foolish and one-sided as well—Dr. Dolittle and the animals were the only truly positive characters in the book). Reading through it with my son, I was reminded of the importance of having thoughtful and critical discussions about books with him, and I was glad that we were reading Anna Hibiscus by Nigerian author Atinuke at the same time. With all the relics of colonialism left in our children’s literature, I am excited to read the children’s literature produced by the rising tide of amazing African authors in our world. ***** If you appreciated this review, check out my blog at pagesandmargins.wordpress.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I read different books & versions of this many years ago, so decided to listen to the original & see how it had aged. Not bad, although not quite as I remembered. This was well read which made it more fun.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nora-Kate

    Read aloud #6 with the kids for 2017. This one we all agreed was "ok" Some parts got long and boring even for me. Lots of disconnected adventures and troubles Dr Dolittle finds himself in over and over again while just trying to get back home, but they don't exactly propel the story forward as much as fill more pages. Aww, But Dr Dolittle is such a sweet old man.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hunter

    Due to the use of "racial pejoratives and stereotypical depictions of dark-skinned people" (from the Forward), The Story of Doctor Dolittle had lost favor with many parents over the years and had been allowed to go out of print. This new edition substitutes Michael Hague's colorful paintings for Hugh Lofting's original black-and-white drawings. Additionally, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack have "gently revised for modern sensibilities" some sections of the story "so as to preserve and emphasize Due to the use of "racial pejoratives and stereotypical depictions of dark-skinned people" (from the Forward), The Story of Doctor Dolittle had lost favor with many parents over the years and had been allowed to go out of print. This new edition substitutes Michael Hague's colorful paintings for Hugh Lofting's original black-and-white drawings. Additionally, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack have "gently revised for modern sensibilities" some sections of the story "so as to preserve and emphasize Lofting's message of universal caring and understanding" (from the Afterword). Here's Lofting in his own words: "If we make children see that all races, given equal physical and mental chances for development, have about the same batting averages of good and bad, we shall have laid another very substantial foundation stone in the edifice of peace and internationalism." (Also from the Afterword, though I'm not sure of the quote's origin.) Racial stereotypes have no place in such a vision for a peaceful, cooperative world. I suspect Lofting wouldn't mind the tweaks to his original language and drawings. The kids loved the story, and couldn't get enough of the adventures of Dolittle and his animal partners/cousins. It's a fun read! And Hague's beautiful paintings added plenty of visual interest to the bedtime reading experience. If you're a literary historian, grab the original version for your studies; if you're a parent trying to raise your children as world citizens, grab this revised version. You won't be disappointed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam Grace

    Okay, what I just heard last night (which, I suspect, is just the beginning of the bad) plus a number of the reviews I just read below make me VERY unhappy. For example, Janet's review below says, "all of the Doctor Doolittle books have a racist quality, but it is never malicious, and reflects an attitude typical of England when the books were written." Also the people who say they are making it all better by simply skipping over the "highly racial epithets" (Christina, the word you are looking Okay, what I just heard last night (which, I suspect, is just the beginning of the bad) plus a number of the reviews I just read below make me VERY unhappy. For example, Janet's review below says, "all of the Doctor Doolittle books have a racist quality, but it is never malicious, and reflects an attitude typical of England when the books were written." Also the people who say they are making it all better by simply skipping over the "highly racial epithets" (Christina, the word you are looking for here is RACIST, not racial, but I'm not just talking about you). The mind, it boggles. I don't remember owning this book, but I know I read it more than once growing up and enjoyed it. Now, listening to it at night as I go to sleep (thanks to Librivox.org's efforts), I am so distracted by the racism that I don't think I can get anything out of this anymore. It's a shame, because there are a lot of great ideas in the book, and I remember enjoying the adventure, but the price is way too high. It is amazing to me that people can actually think that they are not reproducing racism and instilling racist attitudes in their children while counting this as good reading material.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    A lovable ride, but I don't think it deserves an honored place among other enchanting children's classics. It's a sweetly absurd universe, somewhere in the realm of Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and Phantom Tollbooth. But it doesn't have that deep magic in the subtext. Apparently I read an edited version, as I've seen other reviews here which lament the racist colonial aspects from from the original publication. I'm curious if there are various different edited versions out there. I'd like to get my han A lovable ride, but I don't think it deserves an honored place among other enchanting children's classics. It's a sweetly absurd universe, somewhere in the realm of Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and Phantom Tollbooth. But it doesn't have that deep magic in the subtext. Apparently I read an edited version, as I've seen other reviews here which lament the racist colonial aspects from from the original publication. I'm curious if there are various different edited versions out there. I'd like to get my hands on an old hardcopy someday, and explore Lofting's original text. The movie is pretty bad. The great Rex Harrison had to endure such mediocre writing that was the 1967 film script. They could have done so much more with this world on camera. I plan to read the second book, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, soon, as that won a Newbery medal in 1923. But no plans to go beyond that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed reading this. This probably was a book I should have read when I was younger, but I guess, better late than never. I liked that there were a lot of good lessons that young children can learn from this book. Between being nice to animals and people, makes you a better person and that money isn't everything. The animals were darlings, and were enjoyable to spend a few days with. And Doctor Doolittle, was a great character, that would be wonderful, if more younger kids saw as a he I really enjoyed reading this. This probably was a book I should have read when I was younger, but I guess, better late than never. I liked that there were a lot of good lessons that young children can learn from this book. Between being nice to animals and people, makes you a better person and that money isn't everything. The animals were darlings, and were enjoyable to spend a few days with. And Doctor Doolittle, was a great character, that would be wonderful, if more younger kids saw as a hero. This was a free kindle book from amazon that I'll be keeping on my kindle and I might just one day, read it again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    GREAT choice. The children LOVED it and I really enjoyed reading it out loud to them. Total win.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    This is the first time I read this book. I seem to recall watching a TV series about Doctor Dolittle when I was young, but I guess the Eddie Murphy adaptation is the one that has stuck to mind, but I thought it might be interesting to read the original, and it was interesting in many ways. The central idea of Doctor Dolittle, communicating with animals, and perhaps the acknowledgment of the fact that animals do actually talk, is still important for kids to understand nature. Obviously animals don This is the first time I read this book. I seem to recall watching a TV series about Doctor Dolittle when I was young, but I guess the Eddie Murphy adaptation is the one that has stuck to mind, but I thought it might be interesting to read the original, and it was interesting in many ways. The central idea of Doctor Dolittle, communicating with animals, and perhaps the acknowledgment of the fact that animals do actually talk, is still important for kids to understand nature. Obviously animals don’t talk like the animals in the book, or the movie, but they talk, or if you wish, communicate. What do you think is happening when you’re eating, and a dog comes up to you with those begging eyes? The dog is talking to you, even though it’s not done with words. Watch animals for a while and you will see them communicate between themselves. It is important that kids are taught this. The problem is that this book hasn’t aged very well. Not because of this idea, but the racism that is all over this story. In short, we can say that the plot here is about the good white doctor who has to come to Africa to save the monkeys there, but the simple minded natives don’t understand that. He is wise, they are not. This means that part of the plot hinges the “white mans burden” idea. This, and other things in this work, are racist, and drag this other wise interesting children’s book down. I’m not sure if Hugh Lofting himself was racist, or if this is just a sign of its time. I’ve seen this in other children’s books from that time, and later, Tintin in Congo for example. There are things in the plot line that complicate Lofting as racist, like the animals view of the white capitalistic world Doctor Dolittle comes from. Things like that show that he is not only making fun of Africans. Still, I have to admit that I actually prefer Eddie Murphy’s adaptation of this story to the original. It’s funnier.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paola Grenier

    I read this to my children having picked up a very old copy second hand. We all loved it - I found it inventive, amusing, and perfectly balanced between description and action for my children (who are 6 and 8). And because its about the relationship between animals and people, in some ways it hadn't really dated - ok, so there were no smart phones or TVs or microwave ovens, or internet, but we didn't miss them. It's fantasy. The other side of the story, which I had not been aware of until I saw I read this to my children having picked up a very old copy second hand. We all loved it - I found it inventive, amusing, and perfectly balanced between description and action for my children (who are 6 and 8). And because its about the relationship between animals and people, in some ways it hadn't really dated - ok, so there were no smart phones or TVs or microwave ovens, or internet, but we didn't miss them. It's fantasy. The other side of the story, which I had not been aware of until I saw the words in front of me and had to quickly make a decision about how to read them, is the racism and the racist language. There are the straight forward offensive racist words, which I did not use. And there is the story line - in particular in this book the story of Prince Bumpo wanting to change his skin colour. I didn't change this. The reaction from my children was interesting - they started asking questions about why it is that so many fairy princesses have white skin and are fair. I am glad they started asking this, and I am glad I didn't change the story line. So we could have a brief and age appropriate discussion about skin colour and the dominance of white European images - without even referring to Bumpo. (People do funny and sometimes stupid things when they think they are in love... that is the only way in which my children understood Bumpo at this point in their lives.) I haven't read all the reviews of the book, and maybe there are other experiences like this. I haven't read the other books, and I am a bit nervous about them - but I still think I would prefer the originals or maybe the ones which have been adapted by Lofting's son. If I read them aloud I can decide what I read and what not. What I did learn is that their reaction is not mine, and they should be allowed, even at a young age, to respond in their own way, and they are quite capable of detecting prejudice, asking good questions, and initiating a discussion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Thrasher

    This is the origin story for Doctor Dolittle and company - how he learns the language of animals, the sickness of the monkeys in Africa, and then his exciting voyage home. The origin and Africa chapters are magical, but it is definitely the voyage home that the real Doctor Dolittle and his animal companions make their appearance. Caveat emptor: the free online versions are the horrible old racist versions; in my latest read of this classic, I downloaded one from the Canadian Project Gutenberg, w This is the origin story for Doctor Dolittle and company - how he learns the language of animals, the sickness of the monkeys in Africa, and then his exciting voyage home. The origin and Africa chapters are magical, but it is definitely the voyage home that the real Doctor Dolittle and his animal companions make their appearance. Caveat emptor: the free online versions are the horrible old racist versions; in my latest read of this classic, I downloaded one from the Canadian Project Gutenberg, which included every bit of the racist language and an awful racist detour (which some versions have changed while other have completely left out). If you have an interest in children's literature from an intellectual point of view, then by all means download and read the original. But if you're reading this aloud to your children, consider paying for it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I am and always have been a huge fan of old movies. As a kid I was shown the Doctor Dolittle movie starring Rex Harrison and fell in love with the story of a man who could talk to animals. It's been years since I saw the movie and decided to read the first book in the series. Besides The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting wrote eleven other books in this children's series. Dr. John Doolittle is a respected physician with a love of animals, who eventually loses his human patients due to the in I am and always have been a huge fan of old movies. As a kid I was shown the Doctor Dolittle movie starring Rex Harrison and fell in love with the story of a man who could talk to animals. It's been years since I saw the movie and decided to read the first book in the series. Besides The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting wrote eleven other books in this children's series. Dr. John Doolittle is a respected physician with a love of animals, who eventually loses his human patients due to the increasing amounts of animals that live with him. He lives with his sister in the English town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. One day he learns that he can speak to his animals when he begins to understand his parrot, Polynesia. He then takes up veterinary practice, and his fame spreads among the animals as a doctor who can talk to and understand them. He is eventually persuaded to travel to Africa to cure a monkey epidemic, but on the way is shipwrecked and captured by the king of Jolligingki. He barely escapes with his life, as the king is a victim of European colonization and hates any Europeans. Doolittle and his animal companions eventually make it to the land of the monkey epidemic, where he is able to cure and vaccinate all the monkeys. In appreciation for his services, the monkeys give Doolittle a rare gazelle-unicorn cross called a pushmi-pullyu. On the way back to England, Doolittle is again captured by the king of Jolligingki, but escapes with the help of a prince named Prince Bumpo. Eventually, Doolittle makes it back to England and tours with the pushmi-pullyu in a circus until he makes enough money to retire back to Puddleby. Surprisingly I really wasn't a fan of the book. I think it was because of the racism that was clearly evident in the writing and illustrations. The racial terms used to refer to black people and the monkey-like illustrations really hindered any type of pleasure I might have found in the novel. While young children reading the novel may not understand the offensiveness in the words and images, it still isn't something I'd want them learning if I was a parent. The one thing that I did enjoy about the book was the relationship that Doctor Dolittle had with his animals. It was heartwarming to see how much Dolittle cared about the animals. He was willing to go hungry, lose his house, and his family all for his love of the animals. The idea behind Doctor Dolittle and all the creatures and everything is a creative one, but there was just something about the book that didn't work for me. Maybe I was reading it at the wrong age? For those parents out there , show your kids the Rex Harrison film version if you want to introduce them to Doctor Dolittle, skip these books. Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict) http://lifeand100books.wordpress.com/...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Dr. Doolittle learns to speak to the animals, becomes an animal doctor, travels to Africa to treat a monkey sickness, and outsmarts pirates. Good thing: I love to read about animals and this story has some fun ones: a crocodile who promises to not eat the goldfish if he's allowed to live in their pond, a dog who can sniff out a particular brand of snuff, and a brave mouse who follows the doctor on his journey. Bad thing: There's racism. It's written by a white guy in the 20's who is trying to wri Dr. Doolittle learns to speak to the animals, becomes an animal doctor, travels to Africa to treat a monkey sickness, and outsmarts pirates. Good thing: I love to read about animals and this story has some fun ones: a crocodile who promises to not eat the goldfish if he's allowed to live in their pond, a dog who can sniff out a particular brand of snuff, and a brave mouse who follows the doctor on his journey. Bad thing: There's racism. It's written by a white guy in the 20's who is trying to write about a journey to Africa. If you can't tune out that part of it, don't read these. This is a re-read of a book I loved as a child and it holds up pretty well. My mom, in her 80's, read this along with me and enjoyed it too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is a lovely little story book ideal for reading to younger children. Enticing adventure awaits in each chapter. Often times it is the quick thinking intelligence of the animals that get Dr. Dolittle out of tight places. The "be kind to your fellow man and beast" pretty much bashes you upside the head. This is an interesting twist on the anthropomorphized animal theme so prevalent in children's literature. We are privy to the ideas and conversations between the animals (much like you see with This is a lovely little story book ideal for reading to younger children. Enticing adventure awaits in each chapter. Often times it is the quick thinking intelligence of the animals that get Dr. Dolittle out of tight places. The "be kind to your fellow man and beast" pretty much bashes you upside the head. This is an interesting twist on the anthropomorphized animal theme so prevalent in children's literature. We are privy to the ideas and conversations between the animals (much like you see with the characters in Watership Down,though by no means does this book lend itself to the type of character development you see in that novel) rather than the traditional"dress-up" games popular in other children's books featuring animals.The animals act as animals but we get to learn their inner thoughts as Dr. Dolittle can of course speak to the animals.(Remember your stuffed animals used to talk to you as you played as a small child and all of them had a name you had given them? And you could never ever have too many stuffed animals in your room, there was always room for one more! Every child can relate to this trait in Dr. Dolittle.) So why a 3*?. This anniversary edition (1988) contains an afterword by Christopher Lofting, the author's son. In it he explains and rationalizes changes that have been made to the original manuscript so as to not offend any ethnic minorities. Even drawings were removed from the original and previously unprinted illustrations were added to compensate. I personally believe that current works should reflect the "Political Correctness" of our times, but to erase the stereotypes so prevalent in decades or centuries gone by from classic literature, regardless as to whether you think the author would now be agreeable to such changes, means that future generations will be ignorant of what once was. This, in my mind, is censorship. That was such a disappointment after reading the story. Hopefully I will be able to find earlier editions of the subsequent books in the series, but as they are not easily found I will continue to look for any edition. All in all though a delightful story with very engaging illustrations.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Once upon a time, many years ago - when our grandfathers were little children - there was a doctor, and his name was Dolittle - John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot. This was such an enchanting story! I had a few reasons for picking it up. a) I've seen the Rex Harrison musical film several times, b) I'm trying to read a lot more children's classics, and c) it was super cheap at a used bookstore and who can say no to cheap books? This is the story of Once upon a time, many years ago - when our grandfathers were little children - there was a doctor, and his name was Dolittle - John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot. This was such an enchanting story! I had a few reasons for picking it up. a) I've seen the Rex Harrison musical film several times, b) I'm trying to read a lot more children's classics, and c) it was super cheap at a used bookstore and who can say no to cheap books? This is the story of John Dolittle, who started out as a proper doctor but ultimately decided that he preferred animals to people. A decision which is frowned upon, but not entirely unrelatable. Polynesia the parrot agrees to teach him the many languages and dialects of his animal friends, and he then decides to become an animal doctor. This is successful for awhile, but fails when he adopts a crocodile and no one will bring him their pets anymore (even though the crocodile has promised not to eat anyone). But word of Dolittle's success have spread to the far reaches of the world, and he gets a message via swallow that monkeys in Africa are dying and need him to come. And so, with several of his animal friends in tow, Doctor Dolittle has a grand adventure, and I'm so happy to have experienced it. There were a few issues with this book's representation of other cultures, but given the time it was written, it's not surprising. But overall, it's a sweet story, and I may be picking up the sequel at some point. Four stars!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reanne

    I was so disappointed in this book, because it started out well. In the beginning, it was cute and charming. I loved the bit where Dr. Doolittle threatened to punch a man in the nose if he wouldn't give him his monkey. But the problem is, this is one of those old-fashioned sort of children's books where nothing really happens but a long, rambling series of 'adventures' with very little actually connecting them. The doctor himself doesn't really do much, for the most part. Almost every time a cha I was so disappointed in this book, because it started out well. In the beginning, it was cute and charming. I loved the bit where Dr. Doolittle threatened to punch a man in the nose if he wouldn't give him his monkey. But the problem is, this is one of those old-fashioned sort of children's books where nothing really happens but a long, rambling series of 'adventures' with very little actually connecting them. The doctor himself doesn't really do much, for the most part. Almost every time a challenge comes up, one of the animals sorts it out, and even that happens pretty easily. It's just a meandering, rambling story, really, and for me, it quickly lost its charm and became quite boring.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kami

    - This was a fun and short book. It is an older book, so I'm glad things got right to the point without all the fluff in between. - I really enjoyed the characters, especially the animals. I also liked that the animals came up with solutions to problems, and that they weren't dumb animals. They had personalities and brains. - I liked all the illustrations. They were fun. - This was a good intro into the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anushka R.

    Actually a 4.5. I liked the book in general with it’s awesome characters. It’s little details are amazing, but there’s one tiny problem I have with it. The plot jumps around a lot. I mean, it’s ok if the author does it a few times, but this is a bit much.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Flower Ali

    since i like animlas, i found it interesting story

  30. 5 out of 5

    Flo Neamţiu

    I guess I'm old enough to read children stories again.

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