The Story of Doctor Dolittle

If you have never read the original The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, you are in for a treat.  I think the title tells it all: The Story of Doctor Dolittle:  Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts.  Never Before Printed.

John Dolittle, M.D. – ” ‘M.D.’ means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot,” – lived in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.  Unfortunately, or fortunately – depending upon your view – this clever doctor loved animals so much that he drove away all his regular patients.  His last, and very loyal, patient suggested he become an animal doctor.  Doctor Dolittle wasn’t sure about that idea, but his parrot Polynesia talked him into it.  In fact, Polynesia taught him how to speak to animals in their language, and Doctor Dolittle’s reputation as an animal doctor became established.

His reputation spread all around the world until one day, a swallow flew from Africa to request Doctor Dolittle’s help.  The monkeys in Africa were dying of a horrible illness.  Fortunately, the good doctor could call in a favor and find a boat to borrow for their voyage.

Most of the book follows Doctor Dolittle’s adventures in Africa, learning the languages of the animals there and trying to help them.  Children love the story of Dr. Dolittle because of his special affinity for animals – and children.  And when you’re done with this book, you can continue to follow his adventures in:

  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Circus
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Garden
  • Doctor Dolittle in the Moon
  • Gub-Gub’s Book: And Encyclopedia of Food
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Return
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Birthday Book
  • Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake
  • Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary
  • Doctor Dolittle’s Puddleby Adventures

Keep in mind these books were originally published starting in the 1920’s, and so the books reflect the attitudes of the times.  Parts of them can be seen as sexist and/or racist.  Small children likely won’t notice, and these parts will provide a springboard for a discussion about cultural attitudes with your older children.  I found that those particular parts of the books did not detract from the story, and found these books to be delightful stories to share with my children.

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