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Story of Doctor Dolittle
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Story of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  36,355 Ratings  ·  470 Reviews
Doctor Dolittle, a little, lovable old doctor, had so many animal pets spread throughout his house and garden that patients would not come to him anymore. As a result, he became poorer and poorer. But he occupied nearly all of his time tending to his pets, and his fame as an animal doctor spread all over the world. When the monkeys in Africa were stricken with an epidemic, ...more
Audio CD
Published January 1st 2000 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published November 24th 1920)
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Julia I discovered these books (there are 10 of them) at my public library when I was a child in the 70's. But a quick check on my public library site…moreI discovered these books (there are 10 of them) at my public library when I was a child in the 70's. But a quick check on my public library site (Seattle) and on Amazon, shows the titles to still be available in many formats. They are somewhat dated, and reveal the author's prejudices, but do still appeal to children and their love for animals.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 11, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you could talk to the animals, and can overlook the n-word
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
The Library Lady
May 19, 2011 The Library Lady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults looking for a great readaloud for kids
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 a
[Name Redacted]
Feb 03, 2016 [Name Redacted] rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, children
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 ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Daniel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 11, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
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.
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
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 her
Shawn Thrasher
Apr 04, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Melissa (ladybug)
Feb 18, 2016 Melissa (ladybug) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children and the Young at Heart
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
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
Paola Grenier
Sep 07, 2014 Paola Grenier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Grace
Mar 20, 2009 Sam Grace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Reanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
They say you musn't say anything about the dead unless it is good. For Hugh Lofting, he's dead; good.

This book is dedicated to ALL CHILDREN. Obviously, he did not believe Black people had children. Given the book was written in 1920, Black people were not expected to read, I suppose, even though Prince Bumpo reads fairy tales.

Unless one gets an abridged version of this book, I would NOT recommend it for children. Stick to the movies, if you must.

I hate reading a book and being blindsided by ra
Who hasn't seen all the movies based on the children's novels by Hugh Lofting about the friendly doctor who talks to the animals? I remember growing up with Rex Harrison chatting with the friendly animals and searching for the Great Pink Sea Snail. As I was browsing at the library, I happened upon the original series and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! Reading them aloud as bedtime stories, my children and I enjoyed every minute. We fell in love with the mischievous Polynesia the pa ...more
Kristina Wojtaszek
I read this to my little boys, who loved it! The chapters are just long enough to read one a night for a bedtime story, and there are beautiful illustrations on about every other page. If you read the foreword, you'll find that they made one slight change to the original story to cut back on racism (I thought it was a fun change, having the "black prince" wish to become a lion instead of wishing to be white), but for the sensitive parent, there are still a few things to be aware of, such as the ...more
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
Daniel Brandon
I had recently watched the 1960s movie version of Dr. Dolittle, starring Rex Harrison, and I was struck with the desire to re-read the original 1920 children's book.

It... didn't hold up well. Some childrens stories can be re-read as adults; their language, while simple, still tells an engaging story that retains appeal. This one didn't. It also has the additional difficulty of some period-appropriate racism, which by itself I might have been able to overlook, but in combination just made me skip
Mark Ward
Jun 20, 2016 Mark Ward rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2016, kids
Episodic in a silly way, but one that didn't actually make me laugh. Mildly racist in a few cringe-inducing places that I had to skip or alter. The kids didn't object to it, but they didn't ask for it, either. I remembered this being a lot better when my father read it to me in the 1980s. I found it fascinating that a man could talk to animals. Sigh.
Mar 24, 2012 Trace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luke - 5 star book
Momma - 3 star book
Agreed upon - 4 stars

In Luke's words: "One of my favorites characters in the book was Gub-Gub because he was a funny little pig. I also loved the flying fish!"

Momma's words: "I initially wasn't overly fond of this book... found it to be on the silly side - but not even a fun sort of silly for me. But I have to admit that it did spawn some great side discussions. And I grudgingly admit that Luke learned quite a bit about Geography.... and really - what more ca
Heather L
Feb 12, 2015 Heather L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books, 2015
Read for the 2015 Ultimate Challenge (author with my initials). I know I read one of the Dr. Dolittle stories as a kid, but do not know if it was this or another. All I remembered of it was the parrot named Polynesia and the Pushmi-Pullyu.
This is a classic read-aloud book that I discovered just recently along with my children. We listened to it in the car over the course of a week or so. The only disadvantage to this strategy was that I was shocked to hear several highly racial epithets used, which, had I been reading it, I would have edited out (and I mean HIGHLY racial! Yikes!). I have since discovered that there are, in fact, numerous edited versions of varying degrees of Dr. Dolittle. Despite these glitches, we really enjoyed ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Delightful book! I love classic children's books - and I plan to read the next few in the series as well.

As a caveat - I would not read this to my children - at least not in an unedited form (or at the very least not without being prepared for a discussion on racism and how the world has changed in the last century). There is a very racist chapter involving an African prince who wants to be white. The book is a product of its times and a very well-written and entertaining book, but that particul
Denae Christine
Dr. Doolittle is lazy. That surprised me, because I had remembered liking this book when I was much younger. Okay, so he is just foolish and laid back. He has hundreds of pets, doesn't worry about money, and waits for people to need his help. Somehow his parrot taught him, like, every animal language in the space of a few months.
Good book, just not spectacular. It was actually kind of dull. The only interesting thing in it were talking animals. There were too many of them, however, and Doolittle
Aug 16, 2015 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I'll make my kids read this.
This is apparently the edition I have. The subtitle reads: "Being The History of His Peculiar Life at Home And Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts: Told by Hugh Lofting: Illustrated by The Author".

The Dedication reads: "To All Children: Children in Years...And Children in Heart; I Dedicate This Story" [punctuation added]

This is the 1988 printing

The "Introduction to The Tenth Printing" (by Hugh Walpole) is a paean to Lofting. It's not only hagiographic; it's insulting to other authors (Nesbi
Jan 22, 2016 JP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I choose this book to read because it had nice cover full of animals. This book is called Doctor Dolittle and the author of the book is Hugh Lofting and this is a fiction book. The genre of the this book is adventure.This book is about Dr.Dolittle saving animals all around the world.The story is token in the may places first his own house then the jungle then the sea. Dr.Dolittle and his animal friends are main characters. Dr.Dolittle learnt how to speak with animals from a parrot and he is the ...more
Ian Wood
Dec 29, 2015 Ian Wood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Aug 08, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, juvenile, animals
As a lifelong animal lover, I'm surprised I never read this book. I think I saw the movie when I was very young but I don't remember it. At any rate, I really enjoyed it. Before reading, I thought the animals learned to speak human, and didn't realize it was the other way around. Dr. Dolittle is a sweet protagonist, and I enjoyed the various animals as well as the element of adventure. I started out listening to this on an audio I downloaded from the library, then switched to a my print edition ...more
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movie versions? 4 14 Oct 08, 2013 01:33PM  
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Hugh Lofting was a British author, trained as a civil engineer, who created the character of Doctor Dolittle — one of the classics of children's literature.

Lofting was born in Maidenhead, England, to English and Irish parents. His early education was at Mount St Mary's College in Sheffield, after which he went to the United States, completing a degree in civil engineering at the Massachusetts Inst
More about Hugh Lofting...

Other Books in the Series

Doctor Dolittle (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle, #2)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Post Office (Doctor Dolittle, #3)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Circus (Doctor Dolittle, #4)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Zoo (Doctor Dolittle, #5)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Caravan (Doctor Dolittle, #6)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Garden (Doctor Dolittle, #7)
  • Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (Doctor Dolittle, #8)
  • Doctor Dolittle's Return (Doctor Dolittle, #9)
  • Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (Doctor Dolittle, #10)
  • Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (Doctor Dolittle, #11)

Share This Book

“Then Jip went up to the front of the ship and smelt the wind; and he started muttering to himself,

"Tar; Spanish onions; kerosene oil; wet raincoats; crushed laurel-leaves; rubber burning; lace-curtains being washed--No, my mistake, lace-curtains hanging out to dry; and foxes--hundreds of 'em--cubs; and--"

"Can you really smell all those different things in this one wind?" asked the Doctor.

"Why, of course!" said Jip. "And those are only a few of the easy smells--the strong ones. Any mongrel could smell those with a cold in the head. Wait now, and I'll tell you some of the harder scents that are coming on this wind--a few of the dainty ones."

Then the dog shut his eyes tight, poked his nose straight up in the air and sniffed hard with his mouth half-open.

For a long time he said nothing. He kept as still as a stone. He hardly seemed to be breathing at all. When at last he began to speak, it sounded almost as though he were singing, sadly, in a dream.

"Bricks," he whispered, very low--"old yellow bricks, crumbling with age in a garden-wall; the sweet breath of young cows standing in a mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dove-cote--or perhaps a
granary--with the mid-day sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a bureau-drawer of walnut-wood; a dusty road with a horses' drinking-trough beneath the sycamores; little mushrooms bursting
through the rotting leaves; and--and--and--"

"Any parsnips?" asked Gub-Gub.

"No," said Jip. "You always think of things to eat. No parsnips whatever.”
“Money," he said, "is a terrible nuisance. But it's nice not to have to worry.” 1 likes
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