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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  29,352 ratings  ·  337 reviews
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....more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published 1920 by Frederick A. Stokes (UK)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Aug 11, 2013 David rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
The Library Lady
May 19, 2011 The Library Lady rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
[Name Redacted By Goodreads Because Irrelevant to Review]
Yikes. So much racism! And not subtle, social racism -- 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 do...more
Melissa (ladybug)
Sep 13, 2012 Melissa (ladybug) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
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...more
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...more
VJ
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...more
Emily
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
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...more
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...more
Trace
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...more
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. One of my favorite series of all time, I remember reading the politically incorrect version as a child, and this rightly more sensitive version is good. I went online t...more
Shawna
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
Christina
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
Mollywurzer
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...more
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...more
Mhonis
Dr. Dolittle is an awesome book to read, especially to a child. A story of love and respect for all life and what happens when we live with and without them. A black King and Queen which do not allow Dr. Dolittle, (even though he is an upper class white man) entrance to their kingdom, due to the "white mans" previous display of selfish and damaging behavior, sorely effecting the kingdom. How the black prince, seeking a sleeping beauty, had been so deeply effected after awakening her with his kis...more
Kater Cheek
I got this as a free audiobook, and it was prefaced by a foreword from someone letting me know that what I was about to read was the pinnacle of children's literature, much better than most of the trash out there, and was, in fact, a work of genius. After listening to the book, I can say I disagree with this. I feel sorry for anyone who was a child in the twenties, if this is the best option available to them.

Don't get me wrong, there are some cool elements to this story. The doctor not only can...more
Amy
Fascinating. I think the most interesting thing about it is the glimpse it gives into the mindset of another time. What I'm saying is, if this were published this year, I don't think I would have liked it much at all. From its place in history, it becomes a true classic.

While I understand why some of the text was changed, and I think it was probably the right thing to do, it would be interesting from an academic point of view to read the original.
Jon
I think my brother would appreciate Dr. Dolittle's view on money:

"Money," he said, "is a terrible nuisance. But it's nice not to have to worry."

I enjoyed the fun adventures that he had with all his animals.

It is interesting that both this book and Mary Poppins were edited for racial content. Oh how times and sensitivities change!
Blyden
This book not only uses racist language of an earlier era (e.g. "nigger" and "coon") but it portrays Africans as dim-witted, and provides other overtly racist narrative completely inappropriate for a children's book.

If that weren't bad enough it goes on for chapter after chapter with no discernible point.
Sasha
A classic book, written in 1920. But... incredibly racist (e.g. the black prince who longs to be white, cartoonish illustrations of people in Africa). I had to edit it on the fly as I read it out loud to my daughter.
Lisa Van Oosterum
I did not think I would love this as much as I did. What a great adventure. We will be reading the rest of this series for sure.
Brandi
This was a really cute story that I read to my kids. They really enjoyed it and we may continue the series.
Lara
What a great find - never came across these as a kid, but I really enjoyed reading Dr Dolittle and would recommend it to friends with youngsters (not having youngsters myself).

I read a review that thought the book was racist, but I don't agree. So you may want to read it through first to see what you think before handing it over to the kids. I thought there was plenty of balance - the angry African king was mean because he was angry; Dr Dolittle is described as "the kindest white man" which ack...more
Denae
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...more
Josiah
"'Money is a nuisance,'" he used to say. 'We'd all be much better off if it had never been invented. What does money matter, so long as we are happy?'"

—John Dolittle, "The Story of Doctor Dolittle", P. 24

"Boys aren't like ducklings—they have to be taken care of till they're quite old."

—Dab-Dab, "The Story of Doctor Dolittle, P. 152

I was really nicely surprised by just how good is "The Story of Doctor Dolittle". Hugh Lofting has a straightforward, innocently perceptive style of writing that...more
Ambrosia
Hooooly crap this book has not aged well. Seriously.

I picked this up as a free Audible download, vaguely remembering seeing the books on the library shelf as a kid. And it starts off just fine, if slightly twee, with the story of an eccentric doctor who prefers the company of animals to people (certainly understandable) who learns to speak their language. And, for convoluted plot-reasons, eventually goes to Africa.

Then the racism kicks into high gear.

I'm not talking about subtle stuff, either....more
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movie versions? 4 10 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
More about Hugh Lofting...
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle, #2) Doctor Dolittle's Circus (Doctor Dolittle, #4) Doctor Dolittle's Zoo (Doctor Dolittle, #5) Doctor Dolittle's Post Office (Doctor Dolittle, #3) Doctor Dolittle's Return (Doctor Dolittle, #9)

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“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.”
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“Money," he said, "is a terrible nuisance. But it's nice not to have to worry.” 0 likes
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