The Story of Doctor Doolittle

Wouldn’t it be marvelous to be able to talk to animals, and have them talk back? Oh, I can imagine the conversations. The birds outside my window at 6am are squawking, “Get your lazy bones out of that bed and fill up our feeder.” I reply, “Be quiet you ninnies and let me get my beauty rest. And I better not hear you this time tomorrow, or you’ll find your feeder empty.” Or Fido’s barks might really mean “Little Jimmy fell in the well”. Kids of all ages (and adults) will love the story of Dr. Doolittle, and the illustrations in this particular edition are breathtaking – so colorful and detailed you’ll want to linger awhile over each one. I’m a bit ashamed to admit this was the first time I’ve read the book. I knew the basic tale, but never knew all it entailed. Dr. Doolittle speaks universal “animalease”, and can communicate with any animal in the world.

And so, in a few years’ time, every living thing for mile and miles got to know about John Doolittle, M.D. And the birds who flew to other countries in the winter told the animals in foreign lands of the wonderful doctor of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, who could understand their talk and help them in their troubles. In this way he became famous among the animals-all over the world-better known even than he had been among the folks of the West Country. And he was happy and liked his life very much.

When the kindly Doctor begins to add animals to his medical practice, his human patients aren’t too happy, especially when a crocodile is added to his menagerie of house pets. His income quickly dwindles down to a meager amount, just when he’s needed to help a group of sick African monkeys. With some help from his friends, he gets a boat and heads for Africa. His trip is full of adventure-he tangles with a cranky tribal King, gets put in jail, makes a grand escape, and crosses path with a feared pirate (The Barbary Dragon).

Oh, there is so much more to love the about the story, and your children will be impressed by how clever and indispensable all the animals are. This is also a splendid book to practice narration. You will be surprised at how much detail your readers will recall. Add this one to your must read list, and be sure to do it as a read-a-loud so everyone can experience this gem together.

Note: This edition is not the original version of Hugh Lofting’s. (Due to racial and stereotype depictions, the book went out of print for a time.) I found nothing offensive in this edition.

Additional Dr. Doolittle Books

Here is a link to Author biography and original text if you prefer to read that one and edit at your own discretion.

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