by Hugh Lofting
I always thought I would rather like this book, because it's all about a man who can talk to animals! What could be better? Sadly, I was a little disappointed. The beginning was good. In a charming style rather reminiscent of My Father's Dragon, the story tells how a village boy, Tommy Stubbins, becomes apprentice to the great naturalist and doctor, and sets off with him on a voyage to discover new animals and find the doctor's missing colleague, an Indian named Long Arrow.
Dr. Dolittle travels around without a care in the world, because he can speak animal languages and wherever he is, creatures come to his aid. Shipwreck? no problem- the dolphins push him to shore. Overwhelming battle odds? no problem- call in thousands of black parrots! But I was a bit disturbed how the jolly animal-loving man used this to impose his own views on other people. It started out midly enough- translating for a dog so he could stand witness in a murder trial, stopping bullfights in a small town in Spain, follow a beetle guide to rescue some men trapped in a rockslide. But then at the end of their journey the doctor, Tommy and the animal crew arrive on a floating island where the native inhabitants are so ignorant Dolittle has to teach them everything- starting with how to make fire! then building cities, sewer systems, introducing them to medicine, teaching them to use metal, etc etc. It just got to be a bit too much. Polynesia the parrot had it right when she criticized him: "How do you suppose babies got along before you came, for Heaven's sake?" I wanted to like The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle, but the conceit of those ending chapters just spoiled it for me. This is a sequel. The Story of Dr. Dolittle is the first book and then there's a whole slew of others, but I don't think I'll read any more. I think my copy is an edited one, too; I read on wiki that some racist terms for natives and offensive illustrations had been removed.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 276 pages, 1922
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