by Hugh Lofting
I always thought I would rather like this book, because it\’s all about a man who can talk to animals! What could be better? Sadly, I was a little disappointed. The beginning was good. In a charming style rather reminiscent of My Father\’s Dragon, the story tells how a village boy, Tommy Stubbins, becomes apprentice to the great naturalist and doctor, and sets off with him on a voyage to discover new animals and find the doctor\’s missing colleague, an Indian named Long Arrow.
Dr. Dolittle travels around without a care in the world, because he can speak animal languages and wherever he is, creatures come to his aid. Shipwreck? no problem- the dolphins push him to shore. Overwhelming battle odds? no problem- call in thousands of black parrots! But I was a bit disturbed how the jolly animal-loving man used this to impose his own views on other people. It started out midly enough- translating for a dog so he could stand witness in a murder trial, stopping bullfights in a small town in Spain, follow a beetle guide to rescue some men trapped in a rockslide. But then at the end of their journey the doctor, Tommy and the animal crew arrive on a floating island where the native inhabitants are so ignorant Dolittle has to teach them everything– starting with how to make fire! then building cities, sewer systems, introducing them to medicine, teaching them to use metal, etc etc. It just got to be a bit too much. Polynesia the parrot had it right when she criticized him: \”How do you suppose babies got along before you came, for Heaven\’s sake?\” I wanted to like The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle, but the conceit of those ending chapters just spoiled it for me. This is a sequel. The Story of Dr. Dolittle is the first book and then there\’s a whole slew of others, but I don\’t think I\’ll read any more. I think my copy is an edited one, too; I read on wiki that some racist terms for natives and offensive illustrations had been removed.
Rating: 2/5 276 pages, 1922
The Newberry Project
Adventures in Reading
SMS Book Reviews
A Species of Storytellers
I loved these books as a child – sorry it didn't work for you.
I think we missed that kind of thing as kids and so it's kind of a bummer when you re-read it and realize how bad it really is. It is too bad to \”lose\” a book that could have been such a favourite though.I was going to go back and re-read this one, but maybe I won't now. Thanks for the review!
I would have been drawn in by the animal thing as well. I will be passing on this one!
You think the book doctor is arrogant, you try the film with Rex Harrison. My word it's awful – and at one point he sings a love song to a seal. (Perfectly platonic.) I'm sorry this wasn't better for you. I was addicted to these books for a while when I was about ten.
I had the \”Dr. Dolittle Treasury\” when I was younger, which was basically excerpts from all of the different books. I was absolutely in love with it – largely because travelling across the ocean bottom inside a giant translucent snail shell sounded so cool – but I don't think I've revisited it since I was twelve or so.
I really enjoyed these when I was little, and I still have all my copies. I think Dr Doolittle is to thank for my interest in parsnips–or was it turnips? Perhaps I should try re-reading them …
I enjoyed this more than I was expecting, but like you I don't have any plans to continue the series!