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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  ·  32,381 ratings  ·  386 reviews
In this first book in the series, Doctor Dolittle discovers that he can talk to the animals--Jip the dog, Dab Dab the duck, Polynesia the parrot.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 176 pages
Published December 24th 2008 by Yearling (first published 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
"What is it, Polynesia?" asked the Doctor, looking up from his book.

"I was just thinking," said the parrot, and she went on looking at the leaves.

"What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking about people," said Polynesia. "People think they're so wonderful. The world has been going on now for thousands of years, hasn't it? And the only thing in animal language that people have learned to understand is that when a dog wags his tail he means 'I'm glad!' It's funny, isn't it? You are the very first man
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
[Name Redacted]
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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
John Dolittle is a doctor who is driving away his patients with his growing family of pets. One day, his parrot decides to start talking to him and teaches him animal language. Soon, he becomes so famous in the animal kingdom that he is requested to travel to Africa and cure the monkeys from a terrible sickness.

I am surprised that this book doesn't have more pictures (or less writing), because the level of story telling is fitting that of a book with a more or less equal word/pictures ratio. Fu

Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Dolittle is about a Doctor who loves animals so much so that they ruin his business. He soon finds out though that he has the ability to talk to his animals. Word spreads of this ability and soon he is called to Africa to help heal the monkeys. While in Africa Dolittle's little team has multiple run-ins with jealous kings and dangerous pirates. Eventually he makes hi way home and travels with a circus and his anima
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
joy pun-joz

It would not have been taxing to little kids' minds to teach them practicality, ethics and sanity in working, moreover certainly not too early to communicate to them that a doctor must clear up and segregate his occupational area? Simple household management. What is missing in this stupid story: A separate small clinic for people and separate small clinic for animals; it is not expensive to do so for Do Liitle, who prefers to do too little to prove he is a proper doctor-model for the children
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.
This may be a little too in depth reading for such a charming child's story. But I thought it did a great job of introducing ways to lead and solve problems. The hero is kind and gentle. The problems that frequent upon him do not lead him to bemoan life and send him down a rant of regrets. Instead he frequently counsels with those around him, who happen to be humble creatures, and he is often learning something. He remarks how their ideas and perspectives are interesting and records them down. H ...more
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movie versions? 4 13 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)
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle, #2) Doctor Dolittle's Circus (Doctor Dolittle, #4) Doctor Dolittle (Junior Classics) Doctor Dolittle's Zoo (Doctor Dolittle, #5) Doctor Dolittle's Post Office (Doctor Dolittle, #3)

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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.”
“Money," he said, "is a terrible nuisance. But it's nice not to have to worry.” 1 likes
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