The Story Of Doctor Dolittle

by Hugh Lofting

Hardcover, 1948

Call number




J. B Lippincott (1948), Edition: Fifth or Later Edition, 144 pages


The adventures of a kind-hearted doctor, who is fond of animals and understands their language, as he travels to Africa with some of his favorite pets to cure the monkeys of a terrible sickness.

User reviews

LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Dr. Dolittle is a British country doctor with a soft spot for animals - so much so that his human clientele has dropped off steeply due to the abundance of animals around his house. His parrot, Polynesia, wisely suggests that he become an animal doctor rather than a people doctor, and sets about teaching him the secret language that animals use to talk to each other. With this knowledge, Dr. Dolittle becomes the best animal doctor there ever was, and his fame spreads among animals far and wide. Eventually, he is called to Africa where there is a great sickness among the monkeys, but getting there safely - and back - is no mean feat for a poor country doctor.

Review: I loved the Dr. Dolittle Treasury when I was younger, and I was pleased to find that the original version of the first book has lost none of its charm, even now that I'm a grownup. One the one hand, it is a product of its time, and there's some casual racism surrounding Dr. Dolittle's trip to Africa that reads uncomfortably today. But, on the other hand, I think the desire to talk to the animals is a pretty universal one amongst children (or maybe just amongst children destined to grow up to be biologists?), and the animals are absolutely the star of the show. Lofting renders their personalities clearly and uniquely, so that they're all each individuals as well as representatives of their species - most dog owners will recognize their own pet in Jip, for example. There are plenty of adventures to keep this short book moving along quickly, some good laughs, and the fact that it was written for children keeps the language from becoming dense or overblown. It's not a particularly deep book, but it is charming and fun, and deserves its status as a children's classic. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Anyone who has kids who like animals, or anyone who *was* a kid who liked animals should definitely pick this one up for a nice little break.
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LibraryThing member bell7
In this story, Dr. Dolittle fails as a human doctor (one of his patients flipped out when she sat on a hedgehog he was keeping, and it was all downhill from there), he becomes really poor from lack of patients, and his sister (the housekeeper) gets sick of the poverty and constant animals underfoot and leaves. His one remaining patient tells him he should become an animal doctor. His parrot thinks this is a good idea, and teaches him how to talk to animals (she's the perfect candidate, of course, because she can use human speech too). So then he gains renown as an animal doctor, and all the animals love him (and all the horses around are starting to wear spectacles), and then he has to go to Africa to save the sick monkeys...

And then it just meanders on from there. There were moments that were supposed to be exciting, but I found the premise so ludicrous that I was never in any suspense over them. I actually didn't like Dr. Dolittle much -- he really does "do little" (and just wait 'til you see how he gains back all that money he lost...), and I'm sorry but the only explanation for how he can talk to animals is that his parrot taught him? If it weren't for the fact that I remember liking The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, I would doubt that I could buy this story even as a kid. I didn't hate the book, but two CDs never seemed like a longer story.
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LibraryThing member Clurb
A classic children's adventure story; Dr Doolittle and his friends travel to Africa to help the monkeys. Beware though, this writing is very much of its age and the vocabulary used (and some of the opinions expressed) should be taken with a generous pinch of salt.
LibraryThing member norabelle414
The first book in the Doctor Dolittle series. Doctor Dolittle is a terrible physician. He's good at his job, but no patients will ever come visit him because he has too many animals. So, he decides to become a veterinarian. Unlike the Eddie Murphy version, the originial Doctor Dolittle gains the ability to speak to and understand animals through kindness (so the animals will be willing to talk to him) and a lot of hard work. One day, a monkey comes to visit and informs the doctor that all of the monkeys in Africa are getting sick. So, the doctor and a few of his favorite animal companions sail to Africa to help them.

The whole Doctor Dolittle series is exactly what you'd expect it to be: great if you like classic kids' books; probably pretty boring if you don't.
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LibraryThing member susanbevans
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting is the imaginative and humorous first novel in the Voyages of Doctor Dolittle series. Thanks to his intelligent parrot Polynesia, Doctor Dolittle learns how to talk to animals. Because he has these unique skills, he becomes an animal doctor, and along the way helps countless animals.

Although a very simple story, written in a simple way - the way children would understand - The Story of Doctor Dolittle was excellent. Full of adventure and humor, you will not be able to put this book down. The characters, especially the animals, come to vivid life, and practically leap of the page to trot, swing, or pad through your living room! The Story of Doctor Dolittle is good for the young, and the young-at-heart..
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LibraryThing member dcaitlyn
An interesting philosophical introduction to animal rights and colonialist history. The good doctor is insanely lovable and his compassion for all is commendable. However, even with the bowdlerized text there is some disturbing colonialist imagery involving the childlike black men of the African continent behaving in infantile and ridiculous ways, even though the bowdlerized illustrations no longer depict them as cartoonish charicatures. Nervertheless it is a wonderful adventure with a somewhat humanitarian message and does reflect the historical evolution of colonial attit… (more)
LibraryThing member capiam1234
Yes there is some racial language found in this delightful story of a doctor who can talk with animals. But keeping in mind this was written in 1920 it is the perfect book to educate our children on how far or how little we've come since then.
LibraryThing member leslie.98
Enjoyable children's tale of the man who could talk to animals. I wasn't overwhelmed by David Case's narration, but perhaps that is because I grew up with the Rex Harrison musical film.
LibraryThing member leslie.98
3 1/2 stars. The original story of the doctor who talks to animals is enjoyable but this is one of the rare cases where I think the movie was better than the book (I refer to the Rex Harrison musical film). Perhaps it is because I grew up with that movie, but as I was listening to the audiobook, I kept hearing the songs from the movie in my head.… (more)
LibraryThing member bostonian71
Racist and not that well-written, and there's very little depth to the characters. And after dealing with in-laws who have a blase attitude toward money (i.e. more will just magically appear when you need it), I found the Doctor's passiveness and impracticality very frustrating. This merits a star only because there are a few charming moments, such as the horse who gets green sunglasses to wear in the fields. (Read out loud at bedtime, under duress.)… (more)
LibraryThing member BoundTogetherForGood
I didn't fall in love with this book. I like to introduce our kids to lasting literature, classics, if you will. I want them to be well-rounded. To complete having read this book we will also watch the original movie with Rex Harrison and then also the newer version with Eddie Murphy.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
I would like to have known a real Doctor Dolittle. I can just imagine his house with its goldfish, dogs, rabbits, cats, mice, squirrels, hedgehog, cows, chickens, pidgins, horse, lambs, duck, pig, parrot, and name a few. You would think all of these animals would get in the way of Doctor Dolittle taking care of human patients when in reality, he preferred the animals to the people. When he learned to communicate with his furry and feathered friends it was game over. He gave up trying to cure the two-legged folks and concentrated on his true friends.
It is pretty high praise to be compared to Lewis Carroll. Hugh Walpole does just that to Hugh Lofting in his introduction to The Story of Doctor Dolittle.
Lofting wrote the Dolittle stories for his children while he was stationed overseas in the form of illustrated letters. He dedicated Dolittle to "all Children. Children in Years and Children in Heart." Very sweet.
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LibraryThing member jane.oldaker
The story of Dr. Dolittle who is abandoned by his human patients because of all his pets. He is then abandoned by his animal patients because he refuses to give up his pet crocodile. His money is all gone, his sister leaves him to get married, and he is on the point of being unable to feed his animals. He must get to Africa because the monkeys there are suffering from a terrible disease. The story is about his adventures in Africa and his eventual return to Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.

I reread this as an adult and enjoyed it every bit as much as I did when I was a child. The magical notion of talking animals never gets tired for me. Some of the aspects of the story are noticeably dated, but it comes by it honestly enough.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
This is an abridged version of the classic story of the doctor who can talk to animals, and who embarks on a rescue mission to Africa. The illustrations are reminiscent of the book I recall, although not the same. The story, too, follows the same path but is less long-winded and somewhat more politically correct than the original.

There are still some generalisations and more than a hint of the racism that rather dogged the books as originally written almost a century ago. Nonetheless it's an excellent story, one that has appealed to children (and adults!) for a long time.

I read it aloud to my four-year-old grandson, who has heard it before and no doubt will hear it again. I thought it excellent as an adaptation, a great introduction to a series which I hope my grandson will read for himself when he's older.
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LibraryThing member RobinRowlesAuthor
I first read The Story of Doctor Dolittle when I was a young child. It is definitely an all-time-favourite of mine. The storytelling is superb, and there are lots of great characters. I really liked Polynesia, the parrot, and the extraordinary 'PUSHMI-PULLYU' - What fantastic imagination! - I'm still hoping to meet one!

I'm going to read this story again soon! A complete review to follow.

Recommended reading for young children and fun-loving adults too!
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LibraryThing member aprille
This book was a success with my kids. It is the story of how Dr. Dolittle came to learn the language of the animals and made his first trip to Africa to cure the sick monkeys. He also collected the pushme pullyou. This is a pretty sraightforward prose style. It was originally written in the form of letters home to Lofting's children when he was an engineer stationed in Africa during World War I. The sentences are short, declarative sentences, without a lot of description or pacing. A lot of dialogue and a fast paced plot. The words are easy and the print in this voluem is larger and easier for a child to read to herself than the second volume, the Voyages of Dr. Dolittle (which also has a more sophisticated style) (Perhaps Lofting's children were simply older when he wrote the second volume.

I particularly enjoyed the character of the doctor, who is somewhat taciturn. The voices of the animals are heard often at greater length than his. I like the way he listenes carefully to what they say and almost always takes their advice. He really treats them like colleagues on an expedition. There is no significant human domination in the relationship -- other than that which results because the doctor can cure animals. Indeed, some of the animals seem so much more sensible than the doctor about things like money and housekeeping and business that we feel the doctor would be lost without their help. But he is so sincere and kind we understand exactly why they love him.
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LibraryThing member -Eva-
The first book in a series of children's novels about a man who learns to talk to animals and travels the world to help them out. I recently re-watched the 1967 movie since it was a childhood favorite of mine and it's still quite good (although why they cast Rex Harrison - who can't sing to save his life - in a musical is beyond me), but I realized I had never actually read any of the books so I picked this one up to give it a try. It's quite entertaining and especially the animals have some nice lines, but beware than it's quite racist by today's standards, e.g. featuring an African prince who asks Dolittle to turn him white since Sleeping Beauty won't marry him because he's black. It's not a series I mean to continue, but it was fun to have tried one installment. David Case is not a great reader, so I'd suggest not going for his audio-version.… (more)
LibraryThing member Whisper1
This is the book that took me on the path to the love of books. Recommended by my local librarian when I was eight years old, I read this and kept reading. I'm still accumulating books and I am forever grateful to Miss Alice Blake, who set me on the journey of learning.

A simple book about a man who is a doctor who chooses to surround himself with animals instead of people. He relates to all animals and learns their language.… (more)


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