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The Story of Doctor Dolittle
     

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

4.3 27
by Hugh Lofting
 

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INTRODUCTION

There are some of us now reaching middle age who discover themselves to
be lamenting the past in one respect if in none other, that there are
no books written now for children comparable with those of thirty years
ago. I say written FOR children because the new psychological business
of writing ABOUT them as though they were

Overview

INTRODUCTION

There are some of us now reaching middle age who discover themselves to
be lamenting the past in one respect if in none other, that there are
no books written now for children comparable with those of thirty years
ago. I say written FOR children because the new psychological business
of writing ABOUT them as though they were small pills or hatched in
some especially scientific method is extremely popular today. Writing
for children rather than about them is very difficult as everybody who
has tried it knows. It can only be done, I am convinced, by somebody
having a great deal of the child in his own outlook and sensibilities.
Such was the author of "The Little Duke" and "The Dove in the Eagle's
Nest," such the author of "A Flatiron for a Farthing," and "The Story
of a Short Life." Such, above all, the author of "Alice in Wonderland."
Grownups imagine that they can do the trick by adopting baby language
and talking down to their very critical audience. There never was a
greater mistake. The imagination of the author must be a child's
imagination and yet maturely consistent, so that the White Queen in
"Alice," for instance, is seen just as a child would see her, but she
continues always herself through all her distressing adventures. The
supreme touch of the white rabbit pulling on his white gloves as he
hastens is again absolutely the child's vision, but the white rabbit as
guide and introducer of Alice's adventures belongs to mature grown
insight.

Geniuses are rare and, without being at all an undue praiser of times
past, one can say without hesitation that until the appearance of Hugh
Lofting, the successor of Miss Yonge, Mrs. Ewing, Mrs. Gatty and Lewis
Carroll had not appeared. I remember the delight with which some six
months ago I picked up the first "Dolittle" book in the Hampshire
bookshop at Smith College in Northampton. One of Mr. Lofting's
pictures was quite enough for me. The picture that I lighted upon when
I first opened the book was the one of the monkeys making a chain with
their arms across the gulf. Then I looked further and discovered Bumpo
reading fairy stories to himself. And then looked again and there was
a picture of John Dolittle's house.

But pictures are not enough although most authors draw so badly that if
one of them happens to have the genius for line that Mr. Lofting shows
there must be, one feels, something in his writing as well. There is.
You cannot read the first paragraph of the book, which begins in the
right way "Once upon a time" without knowing that Mr. Lofting believes
in his story quite as much as he expects you to. That is the first
essential for a story teller. Then you discover as you read on that he
has the right eye for the right detail. What child-inquiring mind
could resist this intriguing sentence to be found on the second page of
the book:


"Besides the gold-fish in the pond at the bottom of his garden, he had
rabbits in the pantry, white mice in his piano, a squirrel in the linen
closet and a hedgehog in the cellar."

And then when you read a little further you will discover that the
Doctor is not merely a peg on whom to hang exciting and various
adventures but that he is himself a man of original and lively
character. He is a very kindly, generous man, and anyone who has ever
written stories will know that it is much more difficult to make
kindly, generous characters interesting than unkindly and mean ones.
But Dolittle is interesting. It is not only that he is quaint but that
he is wise and knows what he is about. The reader, however young, who
meets him gets very soon a sense that if he were in trouble, not
necessarily medical, he would go to Dolittle and ask his advice about
it. Dolittle seems to extend his hand from the page and grasp that of
his reader, and I can see him going down the centuries a kind of Pied
Piper with thousands of children at his heels. But not only is he a
darling and alive and credible but his creator has also managed to
invest everybody else in the book with the same kind of life.

Now this business of giving life to animals, making them talk and
behave like human beings, is an extremely difficult one. Lewis Carroll
absolutely conquered the difficulties, but I am not sure that anyone
after him until Hugh Lofting has really managed the trick; even in such
a masterpiece as "The Wind in the Willows" we are not quite convinced.
John Dolittle's friends are convincing because their creator never
forces them to desert their own characteristics. Polynesia, for
instance, is natural from first to last. She really does care about
the Doctor but she cares as a bird would care, having always some place&

Product Details

BN ID:
2940012128010
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
01/30/2011
Series:
Doctor Dolittle Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
67 KB

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Story of Doctor Dolittle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever!! I like what they said in the intro... Fun animals!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son enjoyed reading the book but enjoyed the illustrations most!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the stories when i was 10, sixty years ago.i was appalled by the reviewer who said to see movie instead. The original movie that recieved and deserved 1 1/2*'s.i compare that to maybe recomending disneys 'mermaid' and panning hans christian anderson.
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Kimberly_Book_Addict More than 1 year ago
I am and always have been a huge fan of old movies. As a kid I was shown the Doctor Dolittle movie starring Rex Harrison and fell in love with the story of a man who could talk to animals. It's been years since I saw the movie and decided to read the first book in the series. Besides The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting wrote eleven other books in this children's series. Dr. John Doolittle is a respected physician with a love of animals, who eventually loses his human patients due to the increasing amounts of animals that live with him. He lives with his sister in the English town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. One day he learns that he can speak to his animals when he begins to understand his parrot, Polynesia. He then takes up veterinary practice, and his fame spreads among the animals as a doctor who can talk to and understand them. He is eventually persuaded to travel to Africa to cure a monkey epidemic, but on the way is shipwrecked and captured by the king of Jolligingki. He barely escapes with his life, as the king is a victim of European colonization and hates any Europeans. Doolittle and his animal companions eventually make it to the land of the monkey epidemic, where he is able to cure and vaccinate all the monkeys. In appreciation for his services, the monkeys give Doolittle a rare gazelle-unicorn cross called a pushmi-pullyu. On the way back to England, Doolittle is again captured by the king of Jolligingki, but escapes with the help of a prince named Prince Bumpo. Eventually, Doolittle makes it back to England and tours with the pushmi-pullyu in a circus until he makes enough money to retire back to Puddleby. Surprisingly I really wasn't a fan of the book. I think it was because of the racism that was clearly evident in the writing and illustrations. The racial terms used to refer to black people and the monkey-like illustrations really hindered any type of pleasure I might have found in the novel. While young children reading the novel may not understand the offensiveness in the words and images, it still isn't something I'd want them learning if I was a parent. The one thing that I did enjoy about the book was the relationship that Doctor Dolittle had with his animals. It was heartwarming to see how much Dolittle cared about the animals. He was willing to go hungry, lose his house, and his family all for his love of the animals. The idea behind Doctor Dolittle and all the creatures and everything is a creative one, but there was just something about the book that didn't work for me. Maybe I was reading it at the wrong age? For those parents out there , show your kids the Rex Harrison film version if you want to introduce them to Doctor Dolittle, skip these books. Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict)
catesalim More than 1 year ago
For some reason, the font was not properly translated, so when reading it, it has odd characters where a letter should be, and page numbers fall in the middle of a page. Despite the difficulty of trying to translate it, it's still a lovely book.
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I bought this book to read to my 4-year-old. We both greatly enjoyed it. My daughter was entranced by a man who could talk to animals and his adventures. Great for boy or girl, young or old. Illustrations beautifully done!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book thirty-five years ago, and I still consider it one of the best books I ever read. Whether I'm going to the post office or discussing truffles, many things in life remind me of one Dr. Doolittle book or another. I have re-read it several times, and plan to read it again soon. It's like visiting with an old friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its ok but i will read it again