Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
In the village of Puddleby there lives a doctor who loves animals more than anything in the world. He has a variety of pets, from mice and a horse to his favorites, Dab-Dab the duck, Jip the dog, Gub-Gub the pig, Polynesia the parrot, and Too-Too the owl. When his human patients refuse to come to his office because of the animals, Doctor Dolittle and his sister Sarah run out of money to care for all of the creatures. In an effort to save the doctor from ruin, his friend the butcher suggests he become a veterinarian and treat animals instead of humans. Polynesia the parrot teaches him the language of birds, Jip teaches him the language of dogs, and soon the kind doctor's reputation for helping animals stretches around the world. Doctor Dolittle's famous adventures return to their roots in this abridged retelling from the Hugh Lofting original. In an effort to bring the classics to a young audience, Sterling Publishing has created the "Classic Starts" series, shortening the stories and presenting them in easy-to-understand language. Questions for discussion designed to make the story relevant to modern readers by focusing on its universal themes, are included at the end of the book. While fans of the modern movies may not recognize much in this pre-automobile British rendition of the beloved doctor, his winsome nature and the personalities of the various animals with whom he can speak will win over readers who love a good adventure tale, animal stories, or both. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
Thanks to Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Dr. Dolittle is back. Not the comic Dr. Dolittle of the recent movie but the delightfully eccentric doctor of Puddleby-on-Marsh. This Newbery classic has been reprinted with some slight editing to remove references that would offend today's culture. Now young and old can enjoy the charming, rotund animal linguist through the eyes of his 12-year old apprentice, Tom Stubbins, as they search for the elusive botanist, Long Arrow, and the even more elusive Great Glass Sea Snail. On board is Bumpo, the African prince who delights in using long words when short ones will do; Jip, the dog; and the irrepressible parrot, Polynesia. They stop in Spain to rid themselves of a pesky stowaway. While there, the doctor uses his animal linguistic ability to trick the town into outlawing bullfighting. After calm sailing, they encounter a storm and are shipwrecked. Fortunately, they find themselves close to Spidermonkey Island where Long Arrow was last seen. With the help of a Jabizri beetle, they locate the botanist who is trapped in a cave. Dr, Dolittle, the quintessential peace lover, is forced to lead a battle against a neighboring tribe for which he reluctantly accepts the role of king of the island. When the injured Great Glass Sea Snail arrives, Dr. Dolittle is convinced to return home inside the snail that teaches him the language of the shellfish and takes him home along the ocean floor so he can study this previously unknown world. 2001 (orig. 1920), HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 8 to 12.
Moira Rose Donohue
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Doctor Dolittle sets sail towards the mysterious Spider Monkey Island accompanied by by nine-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Stubbins. By Hugh Lofting. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
By Lofting, Hugh
HarperTrophy ISBN: 0060776005
The First Chapter
The Cobbler's Son
My name was Tommy Stubbins, son of Jacob Stubbins, the cobbler of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh; and I was nine and a half years old. At that time Puddleby was only quite a small town. A river ran through the middle of it; and over this river there was a very old stone bridge, called Kingsbridge, which led you from the marketplace on one side to the churchyard on the other.
Sailing ships came up this river from the sea and anchored near the bridge. I used to go down and watch the sailors unloading the ships upon the river wall. The sailors sang strange songs as they pulled upon the ropes; and I learned these songs by heart. And I would sit on the river wall with my feet dangling over the water and sing with the men, pretending to myself that I too was a sailor.
For I longed always to sail away with those brave ships when they turned their backs on Puddleby Church and went creeping down the river again, across the wide lonely marshes to the sea. I longed to go with them out into the world to seek my fortune in foreign lands -- Africa, India, China and Peru! When they got round the bend in the river and the water was hidden from view, you could still see their huge brown sails towering over the roofs of the town, moving onward slowly -- like some gentle giants that walked among the houses without noise. Whatstrange things would they have seen, I wondered, when next they came back to anchor at Kingsbridge! And, dreaming of the lands I had never seen, I'd sit on there, watching till they were out of sight.
Three great friends I had in Puddleby in those days. One was Joe, the mussel-man, who lived in a tiny hut by the edge of the water under the bridge. This old man was simply marvelous at making things. I never saw a man so clever with his hands. He used to mend my toy ships for me which I sailed upon the river; he built windmills out of packing cases and barrel staves; and he could make the most wonderful kites from old umbrellas.
Joe would sometimes take me in his mussel boat, and when the tide was running out we would paddle down the river as far as the edge of the sea to get mussels and lobsters to sell. And out there on the cold lonely marshes we would see wild geese flying, and curlews and redshanks and many other kinds of seabirds that live among the samfire and the long grass of the great salt fen. And as we crept up the river in the evening, when the tide had turned, we would see the lights on Kingsbridge twinkle in the dusk, reminding us of teatime and warm fires.
Another friend I had was Matthew Mugg, the Cat's-meat-Man. He was a funny old person with a bad squint. He looked rather awful but he was really quite nice to talk to. He knew everybody in Puddleby; and he knew all the dogs and all the cats. In those times being a Cat's-meat-Man was a regular business. And you could see one nearly any day going through the streets with a wooden tray full of pieces of meat stuck on skewers crying, "Meat! M-E-A-T!" People paid him to give this meat to their cats and dogs instead of feeding them on dog biscuits or the scraps from the table.
I enjoyed going round with old Matthew and seeing the cats and dogs come running to the garden gates whenever they heard his call. Sometimes he let me give the meat to the animals myself; and I thought this was great fun. He knew a lot about dogs and he would tell me the names of the different kinds as we went through the town. He had several dogs of his own; one, a whippet, was a very fast runner, and Matthew used to win prizes with her at the Saturday coursing races; another, a terrier, was a fine ratter. The Cat's-meat-Man used to make a business of rat-catching for the millers and farmers as well as his other trade of selling cat's-meat.
My third great friend was Luke the Hermit. But of him I will tell you more later on.
I did not go to school, because my father was not rich enough to send me. But I was extremely fond of animals. So I used to spend my time collecting birds' eggs and butterflies, fishing in the river, rambling through the countryside after blackberries and mushrooms and helping the mussel-man mend his nets.
Yes, it was a very pleasant life I lived in those days long ago -- though of course I did not think so then. I was nine and a half years old; and, like all boys, I wanted to grow up -- not knowing how well off I was with no cares and nothing to worry me. Always I longed for the time when I should be allowed to leave my father's house, to take passage in one of those brave ships, to sail down the river through the misty marshes to the sea-out into the world to seek my fortune. Continues...
Excerpted from The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Lofting, Hugh Excerpted by permission.
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