|The Story of Doctor Dolittle|
illustrated by Michael Hague
You know that glorious feeling when you unexpectedly come across a wonderful example of children's literature?
A book that expands your horizons.
Take, for example, The Story of Doctor Dolittle that was published back in 1920.
I know what you are thinking...
Read Aloud Dad ... that is so passé!
But wait a moment, great books are never passé.
Admittedly, everyone knows about Doctor Dolittle.
There are twelve books in the series and The Story of Doctor Dolittle is the first, but not the most famous book from the Doctor Dollitle series.
In fact, its sequel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle won the Newbery Medal in 1923.
So, you ask... is there really something special about this first book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle?
Or is it merely 'the boring sibling' from the Doctor Dolittle book series?
|Doctor Dolittle on the ship|
Boring? Dull? Tedious?
No, no and no my friends.
This one is the real deal.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle radiates freshness and energy.
This is a story that doesn't slow down and kept our attention with its many plot twists and exciting surprises.
Yep, a good old tale of fun and adventure!
But that is not all.
I am happy to tell you that I found the best illustrated version of this gem.
Oh yes, sirree!
A fabulous read aloud with fabulous illustrations.
Oh, how I love that!
Captivating illustrations can make any good read-aloud simply unforgettable.
But superb read aloud with superb illustrations... that makes Read Aloud Dad sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!!
Oh, before I forget, this edition does not have only the benefit of Michael Hague's handsome illustrations of the doctor, his pets and their adventures - it also includes some very limited changes to the original text that bring it in line with modern-day values.
Some racial pejoratives and stereotypical depictions of dark-skinned people were eliminated from the text, because these elements were preventing modern readers from enjoying the book in the 21st century.
What were these changes, you ask?
The changes were limited to reworking an episode in which an African prince wishes to become white and two offensive phrases were deleted in the book. Plus, the book now refers to Africa as a continent, instead of a country.
The Best Of Two Worlds
I don't believe in one ideal beauty.
|Doctor Dolittle in uddleby-on-the-Marsh|
And who was waiting for me there, but Doctor Dolittle in this fabulous edition illustrated by Michael Hague.
But before we proceed, Read Aloud Dad has a little admission to make.
When I was a kid, Doctor Dolittle simply did not excite me. There was no pizazz between us.
Doctor Dolittle always attracted me from afar, but never truly conquered my heart.
We had a collection of Doctor Dolittle paperbacks in our home and I always made sure I did not touch them.
They simply gave me the impression that they were too wordy and simply ... boring.
I know I tried many times, but the editions we had at home always defeated me.
Armed with this knowledge I decided to give my kids a better chance at loving Doctor Dolittle, so I window-shopped and browsed through different editions.
There was simply no better than this Books of Wonder deluxe edition.
|Swallows pull Doctor Dolittle's ship forward|
If you want to get your kids hooked on Doctor Dolittle, start reading the best edition possible.
Both my daughter and my son have taken to Doctor Dolittle just as I hoped they would!
It is a perfect story for kids, about a doctor who prefers the company of animals to the company of people.
He fills up his home and yard in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh with animals of all kinds, including his loyal friends Polynesia the parrot, Dab-Dab a house-keeping duck, Jip the doctor's trusted dog, Gub-Gub a hungry and less-than-brave pig and many other creatures (including a crocodile and a horse that wears glasses).
After swallows one day fly to Puddleby to inform Doctor Dolittle that there is a terrible disease killing monkeys in Africa, the doctor decides to pack his bags and travel with his trusted animal friends to Africa to help save the monkey population.
At the very end of their trip to Africa the doctor and his animals get ship-wrecked, but they manage to reach land and then save the monkeys. In the process the doctor discovers a soon-to-be extinct two-headed beast named pushmi-pullyu.
Doctor Dolittle and his motley crew (now with the shy pushmi-pullyu) decide it is time to get back to Puddleby.
|Bridge of Apes|
Pirates, you heard me well!
Shiver me timbers, this book has it all!
The bad news is that we haven't yet moved on to the next book in this series, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.
|The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (still eludes me!)|
I've been waiting for it to reappear on Amazon for over a year...
I am still hoping that a new edition of this book will be published.
But I may have to settle for some other edition.
If you have a recommendation of a nicely illustrated hardcover of the second Dolittle book (The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle) please tell me.
You would make a Dad and his twins happy!
The Story of Doctor Dolittle is available from bookstores in the US:
- Reviews of great book sets, illustrated editions, chapter and picture books
- Advice for improving your read-aloud sessions
- Tips on how to become a read-aloud ninja and more