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The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Original Version Paperback – March 15, 2010


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The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Original Version + The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle + Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Listening to Alan Bennett read The Story of Doctor Dolittle is the next best thing to borrowing someone's kindly British grandfather for a marathon round of bedtime stories. Bennett seems to have an unlimited supply of voices, accents, and inflections on the ready, which he calls upon to impart each of Doctor Dolittle's animal companions with a distinct personality and voice.

Bennett's reading of the classic children's book is deliciously whimsical. As the tale opens, Dr. John Dolittle is on the verge of the realization that he's just not much good as a people doctor--his earnings have dwindled to a paltry sixpence a year. He takes the advice of his creaky-voiced 183-year-old parrot, Polynesia, and learns animal languages. As an animal doctor, he's brilliant and soon finds himself and his animal friends sailing to Africa to treat an epidemic among monkeys. With no trouble at all, Doctor Dolittle cures the monkeys, but he and his menagerie become embroiled in one adventure after another. They narrowly escape sinking in their leaky ship, thanks to some stowaway rats with surprisingly cultured and well-bred diction, who alert the doctor just in time. The doctor and his friends later run afoul of the Barbary pirates, known to be "a bad lot," for whom Bennett devises a hilariously unidentifiable but thoroughly villainous accent. With the help of some fast-talking (and hungry) sharks, Doctor Dolittle "persuades" the pirates they'd be much better off as birdseed farmers.

The adventures are exciting, but not frightening. Bennett's reassuring voice and the fact that the doctor always forges a peaceful solution to each predicament make the recording appropriate for small children. Adults, too, will find the stories appealing and are certain to appreciate the understated social satire occasionally voiced by the perceptive animals. The reading is rounded out by delightful orchestral selections from Camille Saint-Saëns's "Carnival of the Animals," which signal the beginning and end of each tape side. (Running time: 150 minutes, two cassettes) --Elizabeth Laskey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Kleinbaum's adaptations, accompanied by Lofting's illustrations from the original editions, bring the classic books to younger readers. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Ishi Press (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4871873056
  • ISBN-13: 978-4871873055
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,933,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 155 people found the following review helpful By G. Powell on August 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I liked the story of Dr. Dolittle. However I would like to warn modern readers, that the full version of this book is Racist. So the Editors have carefully changed the story of the African Chief who wished to become Cacausion in appearance to one where he wishes to become a lion. Now, I agree that the story is better this way, but mucking around with books after the author is dead and can't defend or fix them is right out. So in that vein I can't recommend this edition of this book. The editors should have changed the title to "The Modern Dr. Dolittle" or some other name which implies that the story isn't the orginal. They do it all the time with the bible, "King James Ed.", "Good News for Modern Man" etc.
If you are going to read to children, books which treat people unfairly you should take the time explain why this was a poor idea even in its day. Or not read them at all. Or own up to the fact that you've changed the story.
On the plus side the illustrations are great, M. Hague is a great artist.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read "The Story of Doctor Dolittle" for the first time when I was seven. Recently I read the new edition illustrated by Michael Hague. This new edition is terrific. The revisions are obvious to one who read the original work, but they are sensible and reflect Lofting's intentions while reflecting modern thought. Hague's illustrations are beautiful. I would still recommend that older children and adults read the original, to learn a bit about Lofting's time and because the author's illustrations are wonderfully simplistic. This is also a good read-aloud for younger children, because many, when they are able to read it for themselves, will unfortunately have lost interest in such a fanciful story.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. O'Connor on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I presume anyone reading the reviews already is familiar with the storyline of Dr. Dolittle. I highly recommend this version with only a slight reservation (see below) because its illustration and editing would make an excellent introduction to children as well as a gift possibility and a lifelong keepsake.

I heartily disagree with the reviewer who discredits this edition because it has been updated to modern civilities. The reviewer mistakenly suggests that the edition conceals that changes have been made. To the contrary, the foreword fully describes the editors' concerns for literary sensitivities as they made changes.

If your purpose is to collect unabridged books, do shop elsewhere. But if you share my intent of introducing this wonderful story to children, this book serves the purpose very well. There is minimal distraction from unnecessary anachronisms.

I think this edition would serve children well through elementary school. I would nominate unabridged editions for older children to help teach them about society's changing attitudes towards racism.

My slight reservation (mentioned above) about this edition is that racial stereotypes do persist. In Africa, the (white) doctor is referred as "the good man" while the African king is unjust, his son is goofy, and both the king and his son are easily fooled. These characterizations ARE unavoidable without drastically changing the storyline. However, the story explains the motivation for the king's injustice and is a worthy point of discussion with a young reader.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hope from California on December 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Opens up a whole new world of relationships among humans and animals, world of imagination, and world of humor and wonder. It seems every human would benefit from reading this book. If you haven't gotten for your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, you may want to do so, or just read it yourself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lightspring on January 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my two children, ages 7 and 3. Both children were completely mesmerized and could hardly wait for the next day's installment. A bit of editing was necessary while reading to tone down certain parts, especially those dealing with the pirates (who threatened to eat poor Gub-Gub the pig) and the leaving-behind of some of their favorite animal characters, Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey. The illustrations were especially well-received, and could easily be presented at the appropriate points in the story to illustrate exactly what was being read. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed this book and are looking forward to purchasing the sequel, which is the one I remember from my own childhood, _The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle_.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
Martin Short brings pure magic to the Airplay Audio Cassette The Story of Doctor Dolittle. My kids and I laughed and listened, over and over again. Martin Short creates a distinct voice for every animal, and the humans, too. Another important aspect is Airplay's version is unabridged, but all the dated prejudices have been dumped in favor of a much more engaging encounter with poor Prince Bumpo, this is a children's story everyone can enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By crayons on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Both my 5 and 7 year old have enjoyed this book. In fact, they have enjoyed it so much that we are now reading The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle. This book is even better. They wake in the morning asking to be read this book. The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle would be great for a teacher to to read aloud just before writer's workshop. Great descriptors!
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The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Original Version
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