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The Story of Doctor Dolittle (Books of Wonder) Hardcover – September 26, 1997
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Doctor Dolittle--a 19th-century English physician--has never been one for worrying much. Even after his human patients desert him (when one too many sit on one of the doctor's unusual parlor pets), he manages to convert gracefully to animal medicine. Having mastered animal language along the way (with the help of his caustic yet amusing parrot, Polynesia), he has a good head start in his practice. Then, one cold, dark winter night, as the doctor and his pets sit around the fire, a message arrives, via sparrow, from Africa. A terrible epidemic has broken out among the monkeys, and Doctor Dolittle is the only one who can save them. The beneficent physician checks his money box--not a penny left. But the fate of Africa's ailing apes lays squarely on his shoulders.
And so begins the delightful, whimsical adventures that are still enthralling readers three quarters of a century after their original 1920 publication. Hugh Lofting, winner of the 1923 Newbery Medal for The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, has more than a knack for storytelling. His ability to imbue in his characters--human and animal--distinct, unique personalities is remarkable, and his respect for the rights of all who share the planet shines throughout. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
About the Author
Hugh Lofting (1886-1947) began what became the Doctor Dolittle stories while writing letters to his children from the front during World War I. The Story of Doctor Dolittle, first published in 1920, was followed by The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, which was awarded the Newbery Medal, and ten more popular books in the series.
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There are lessons for children to learn even while their imaginations are in high-gear. Lessons of kindness, patience, humility, patience, and caring, just to name a few. However, please realize that this story was published in a MUCH different time, and there is an entire chapter about a black prince that wants to "turn white." The chapter is, in my opinion, a lesson in vanity and conceit (the prince begs for a mirror so he can look at himself all day long), but most likely, that lesson would be lost in modern times. Take it with a grain of salt.
If I ever have kids, this is definitely a book I'd want to read to them. Timeless classic.