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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

(Doctor Dolittle #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  45,454 ratings  ·  977 reviews
Doctor John Dolittle loves animals. He loves them so much that his home and office overflow with animals of every description. When Polynesia the parrot teaches him the language of the animals, Doctor Dolittle becomes a world-famous doctor, traveling even as far away as Africa to help his friends. This edition of the beloved children's classic contains black-and-white illu ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by HarperCollins (first published 1920)
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Claire Adapted to remove racist slurs and stereotypes that are no longer appropriate in today's literature

Adapted to remove racist slurs and stereotypes that are no longer appropriate in today's literature

Jill This is from a recalled perspective, having had for bedtime reading when no older than seven (around 1974) that year, it was still possible to wa…moreThis is from a recalled perspective, having had for bedtime reading when no older than seven (around 1974) that year, it was still possible to walk into a Sambo's Restaurant in the Western U.S. and no one frequenting the restaurant thought anything of the children's menu depicting, "little black Sambo."

So for The Adventures of Doctor Doolittle, I would say it is the colonialism depicted primarily. Any of the people encountered in "deepest darkest Africa" were tribal African natives. Their depiction is primitive, and there may even have been comparisons to the monkeys; essentially, opposite the British Dr. John Doolittle, wacky and doddering as he was. He was still "above" the people he found protecting the Push-mi-pull-yu. And, he doesn't leave animal friends in their habitat, they of course would prefer to be with him and live in England. Think about that message.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Robin Hobb
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young readers
From time to time, I look back at all the books I've given stars to, but never reviewed. I think it I tried to put up a review of each and every one, I'd never get to my own writing.

So why review Dr. Dolittle now?

Because of all the movies I've seen made from this wonderful set of books (there are more than one) none have really captured the magic of the story. If I had to choose one, I'd go with the first movie made from it, the one with Rex Harrison as the doctor. It is the most faithful to the
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Story of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle, #1), Hugh Lofting, Leon Jason

John Dolittle, MD, is a respected physician and quiet bachelor living with his spinster sister Sarah in the small English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.

His love of animals grows over the years and his household menagerie eventually scares off his human clientele, leading to loss of wealth. But after learning the secret of speaking to all animals from his parrot Polynesia, he takes up veterinary practice.

His fortunes
Aug 10, 2013 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
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Ivana Books Are Magic
What a beautiful story! I'm sure I would be head over heels with it if have had the opportunity to read it as a child. Even as an adult, I really liked it a lot. The writing is beautiful and imaginative without being complicated and complex. Simply perfect for children. Moreover, I liked how the character of Dr. Dolittle is as dependent on animals as they are on him. I found that aspect of the book quite realistic (if you can call an aspect of a book where a man speaks with animals realistic).

Aug 08, 2013 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
[Name Redacted]
Jul 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Otis Chandler
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Listened to this in the car. The kids loved it!
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book made me fall in love with books and reading <3 ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I was doctor Dolittle
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
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
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

First published in 1920, The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting is a children’s book classic, which has been enjoyed by many generations since it first released. Most people will be familiar to this classic thanks to the screen revivals of this text. From Rex Harrison’s musical, through to Eddie Murphy’s comedy and most recently, Robert Downey Jr’s colourful reprisal. I didn’t read The Story of Doctor Dolittle as a child, so it was a welcome experience
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
Melissa (ladybug)
Sep 07, 2012 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
Joseph Cognard
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books when I was younger. What is totally weird is I forgot about how much I loved the books till I saw an add for movie that is coming out. Then it came flooding backl to me, and almost feel like I want to reads again.
Sam Grace
Mar 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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
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.
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. ...more
GREAT choice. The children LOVED it and I really enjoyed reading it out loud to them. Total win.
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
Paola Grenier
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Shawn Thrasher
Jul 23, 2011 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
Sep 29, 2020 marked it as not-for-me-i-suppose  ·  review of another edition
This is a racist book. I will not give this to my children.
I love this book sooo much but why the racism, Lofting, why.
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
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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movie versions? 4 17 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

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)

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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.”
“I was thinking about people," said Polynesia." People make me sick. They 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 to talk like us. Oh, sometimes people annoy me dreadfully - such airs they put on, talking about 'the dumb animals.' Dumb! Huh! Why I knew a macaw once who could say 'Good morning' in seven different ways.” 4 likes
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