#114. The Story of Doctor Dolittle

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Illustrated by Michael Hague
First of the Doctor Dolittle books

Pages: 159
Finished: Nov. 16, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1920
Genre: children animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

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.

Comments: Doctor Dolittle is an impoverished doctor who is very friendly with animals. After he gives up his human practice and becomes an animal doctor, he receives a cry for help from the monkeys of Africa who are experiencing an epidemic sickness. I have fond memories of reading all the Doctor Dolittle books as a child. This is my first time to re-read one and I was not disappointed. Lofting was a master storyteller and this book enchants from start to finish. Each chapter is packed with action, adventure and humour. There are many endearing animal characters, each with their own distinct personality. I loved Gub-Gub the pig who was frequently reduced to tears, while my 7yo loved Polynesia the wise and rather bossy parrot. This was a fun and quick book to read aloud and the 7yo enjoyed it immensely. The second book in the series has already been placed on our up-and-coming read-alouds pile.


  1. I'm dying of curiosity about whether you had a new edition or whether you read the N word aloud to your child or whether you made up a word to substitute for it. I read this recently, and had an old edition. I guess I don't think we should censor/rewrite old editions, because it's important to remember how people used to think, but I know I would never have said that word aloud reading it to a child.

  2. Dewey, this edition I read is a very slightly edited version by Patricia and Frederick McKissack so I didn't run into that problem with this book. Personally I am against rewriting old books because they do not match modern sensibilities. I think books should be taken and understood to be a product of their times.

    But as to reading a book to a child, I do believe in an adult using their own judgment to censor as they deem fit. I would never read the N word out loud to a child. I have read a lot of books to my children over the years and have become very good at editing on the fly as I read.

    I do plan to read the next Dolittle book (the copy I have of Voyages has not been edited) and even maybe the others so I'll try to address this in my next review.

  3. OH! I have The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle on my list for the Decades Challenge, not realizing that there was The Story of Doctor Dolittle! I think I'm going to change my list or at least look into this. Thanks.

  4. Yes, Joy, The Story ... is the first in the series. I don't think it would really matter much if you read Voyages first but The Story ... does tell how the Pushmi-Pullyu joined the Dr.

  5. I looked it up and The Voyages... is like #6 in the series. I just happened to find it for the 1920s and never even considered looking to see if there were ones before it. Silly me. I'm so glad I saw it on your blog. :)

  6. joy, I've been caught like that before. Luckily, 'Story of' was written in 1920 so it will work for the same decade for you.

    Voyages is actually the 2nd in the series. Here's the rundown on the series in order:

    The Story of Doctor Dolittle
    The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
    Doctor Dolittle's Post Office
    Doctor Dolittle's Circus
    Doctor Dolittle's Zoo
    Doctor Dolittle's Caravan
    Doctor Dolittle's Garden
    Doctor Dolittle in the Moon
    Doctor Dolittle's Return
    Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake
    Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary
    Doctor Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures

  7. Oh yeah, I forgot - I looked it up on Wikipedia and at the bottom it was like #6. Then, I saw the order of them above where I was looking and saw it was #2. However, my mind didn't catch up when I was leaving a comment. :) It is sooo sad when your mind doesn't cooperate.


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