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Children's LiteratureThanks 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