The Voyages of Doctor Dolittleby Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle heads for the high seas in perhaps the most amazing adventure ever experienced by man or animal. Told by nine-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Stubbins, crewman and future naturalist, the voyages of Doctor Dolittle and his company lead them to Spidermonkey Island. Along with his faithful friends, Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey, Doctor Dolittle survives a perilous shipwreck and lands on the mysterious floating island. There he meets the wondrous Great Glass See Snail who holds the key to the greatest mystery of all.
Moira Rose Donohue
- Read Books Design
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)
- Age Range:
- 9 - 11 Years
Read an Excerpt
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
By Lofting, Hugh
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...
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Meet the Author
Hugh John Lofting was a British author, trained as a civil engineer, who created the character of Doctor Dolittle, one of the classics of children's literature.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920) began the Doctor Dolittle series and won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958. The sequel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922) won Lofting the prestigious Newbery Medal. Eight more books followed, and after Lofting's death two more volumes appeared, composed of short unpublished pieces. The series has been adapted for film and television many times.
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