The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

ISBN: 0440228336
ISBN 13: 9780440228332
By: Hugh Lofting

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About this book

Narrated by nine-year-old Tommy Stubbins, crewman and future naturalist, this book chronicles the delightful voyages of Doctor Dolittle and his faithful friends Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey as they survive a perilous shipwreck on Floating Island and other surprises.

Reader's Thoughts


I was actually surprised at how well this book managed to keep my attention. I was really kind of expecting that I would find it very boring and would have to struggle through it. But that wasn't the case at all. Instead, I found myself reading through it quite fast, wondering what would happen. The only thing I had against this book was that it seemed a little "simple" for a juvenile book, but I think that maybe that is because I am a lot older then its intended audience. I would recommend this book for 8-year-olds, or around that age range. I was also a little dismayed to read the introduction and find out that there had been changes made to this book because of "racial prejudices." It only made me want to go out and find the original book. I do not like it when people censor my books for me, I am perfectly capable of judging whether a book is offensive or not. I am now quite curious to know what "minor changes" they made and how it could have affected the book so much that they felt they needed to change it. All in all though, I found this a fairly enjoyable book, aside from a couple ridiculous ideas or settings I liked it and would probably recommend it.*Taken from my book reviews blog:


This is solid, lighthearted entertainment that will keep all ages engrossed for hours on hand. Some of the adventures are kind of random but are still impossibly fun. The new "updated" version (which is pretty much the only one available to the general public) corrects a lot of racial stereotypes present in the original edition. Such changes are obvious, but there is still a rather uncomfortable and fairly racist portrayal of Indians in the main adventure of the story, which is harder to change considering it's a focal point of the plot. But overall, this is a great classic award winner that stands alone well considering it's a sequel.

Ann Carpenter

I sort of wanted to give this book more stars. I would have if it had ended with the rescue of Long Arrow. At that point the "this was written in the 1920's and the worldview was different" was certainly there, but not as bad as it could have been (and nowhere near as bad as the scenes in Africa from the first book, which, years later, still make me blanch). And then an entire section of the book is spent with the "childlike" Indians (later referred to, by a disgruntled character, as a "bunch of greasy Indians"). They have no concept of fire or cooking their food. Long Arrow is several times stated to have traveled widely and been all over South America, implying that the entire continent has never seen fire. They see the Doctor as a savior and crown him as king. He treats them like children. The casual racism in this entire section ruins quite a bit of the fun of the previous book for me. Up until that point it had been a very enjoyable Victorian romp. Not a lot of character growth, but certainly a lot of fun. Enough fun that it still gets 3 stars.


I can't believe I never read these as a kid! This book was so cute. I'm sure I would have loved it. I was especially amused at how the Spanish called him "Juan Hagapoco". That made me laugh. It got a little tedious there for a while, while they were on the island; and then it seemed to rush to the end. But the middle parts, with the actual adventure, that was definitely worth reading. I also enjoyed the idea of traveling the sea floor in a giant snail with a transparent shell. Very imaginative.However, the title is a little misleading, as this book only documents one voyage!

Chris Zannetti

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle was a book that brought me back to my childhood. The book wrapped me up as soon as I started reading and I didn't want to put it down. The story was one that can be enjoyed by people of any age. The text is complex enough for adults but the story can still be enjoyed by younger people.At times, the story was hard to believe. I know that it's supposed to be about talking animals but at times, it went overboard. For a person like me, that takes some enjoyment out of the book. I enjoy fiction but I also like the story to be somewhat believable.Overall, I think this was a good book. It kept my attention and kept me reading. At times, it was somewhat hard to enjoy because of the talking animals but that's what comes with fiction. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun and interesting book.


This is a somewhat bowdlerized edition, and it was a bit too cute for my tastes, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.


I read this in 6th grade because it was a Newberry book and because I thought it would be about talking animals. Boy, was I wrong. This book has very little to do with the Dr. Doolittle movie, except that both characters are, well, doctors. It's got an old time feel to it, maybe because it was written in 1922, but, for some reason, that didn't bother me. I don't know what it was, but my 12 year old mind couldn't put it down. At the time this book outweighed any of my previously read books by at least 200 pages but I plowed through it in a single day and it swiftly became my favorite book (at the time).


Another Newbery Award winner - I rad the ebook off of Project Gutenberg. There are a couple of places where the "n" word is used to describe an African. This would be a great book to read aloud to your kid and you could 'edit' out anything while reading. It would also be a great book to read while your kid reads and point out how some things have changed over the years.


This 1923 Newbery Award winning tale of a very adventurous naturalist and his young assistant is sure to evoke nostalgia with its rusty and antiquated language. Nonetheless, it is heart-warming and charming. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle is laden with dangerous and obviously unbelievable travels of a man with a passion...a passion to speak the language of his four-legged, feathered, and/or ocean-living friends. The story is narrated by Tommy Stubbins, who travels along with the great doctor and sees many wondrous sights...bull-fights, a floating island, a giant sea-serpent, just to name a few. The doctor is a man of many talents who can cure, tame, and converse with creatures great and small, all the while making their lives and habitats better in the process. All readers must remember this classic was written in 1922 and as such, has some 'politically incorrect’ terms and phrases, but if the reader can see past it and accept it as being part of the age in which it was written, they'll find a delightful and entertaining story to capture one’s imagination!Newbery Award Winner: 1923


Tommy Stubbins is a ten year old whose father is a shoe maker. He lives in Puddleby in England. One day he finds a hurt squirrel and is sent to Dr. Dolittle for help to heal him. When Tommy meets the doctor, he finds out he can converse with animals. Tommy convinces Dr. Dolittle to hire him on as an apprentice and soon Stubbins can converse with a few of the animals as well. The Doctor is trying to learn the language of the shellfish because they are some of the oldest creatures alive. The two friends and an african prince set sale to find Long Arrow, a naturalist who can help them find a giant sea snail. In the process they save Long Arrow and his people, the doctor is appointed king and they spend years on a floating island. I have seen the old movie Dr. Dolittle and I thought this book wasn't going to be as good. I was surprised that I very much enjoyed this story. It wasn't one that I hated to put down, but it was quite entertaining and well written. Some of the sciences mentioned are a little outdated, but overall I though the story was excellent.


“Champion of the Rights of Animals” This 1922 childhood classic by Hugh Lofting is related by 10-12 year old Tommy Stubbins, the son of a poor cobbler. Totally swept up in the new science of Natural Studies Tommy evolves from client (with a wounded squirrel) to apprentice, despite his parents’ reluctance. From the moment the boy meets Dr. John Doolittle of Puddleby-on-Marsh, Tommy’s life will never be the same, and he will experience natural and geologic wonders of the world as he accompanies the learned man on voyages of exploration.Respected as an eminent Naturalist this middle-aged bachelor keeps a veritable menagerie in his home and in his private, backyard zoo. Animals truly love this man because of his kindness and compassion, his medical skills, his generosity with his time, talents and modest resources. But there is a more compelling reason for his zoological success: this man can actually Talk with most species of the animal kingdom! Eventually Tommy finds himself onboard a newly-purchased ship called THE CURLEW, as the Doctor embarks on a voyage of discovery and rescue across the Atlantic. Seeking a mysterious, floating isle called Spider Monkey Island, and the vanished Long Arrow, an unappreciated naturalist in his own, Native American world. The pair enlist the aid of Bumpo, an African prince who has studied in England. But it is the Dcotor’s devoted animal companions who prove invaluable, on both sides of the ocean: Dab Dab the housekeeper Duck, Jip the dog, Chee Chee, the African chimp, Polynesia, the brains of the outfit, and Miranda, the exotic messenger bird of paradise. Tommy faithfully records these incredible experiences for generations of children (of all ages!) to enjoy: the trial of a man accused of murder in a Mexican mine; a wager about bull fighting on a Spanish island; stowaways and a shipwreck; rescue of trapped Indians; a war and reconstruction--white man style; Indians buried alive; the dilemma of the white man’s burden, and a fantastic submarine trans-Atlantic crossing. Lofting includes a mild satire on British institutions, food habits and climate. Yet he offers serious sub themes re the role/effect of White man upon native: is it morally necessary to “Civilize” childish or naive natives? This delightful fantasy is easy to read and this edition offers curious pen and ink sketches typical of the early 20’s—a true Kid Klassic! (March 31, 2011. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)

Shawn Thrasher

Proto-Peta, early environmentalist, anti-colonialist - if you've only seen the movies, you're in for a taste of something different (a touch of the radical?) when you read the books. Voyages isn't the best of the Dolittle books (even though it won the Newbery) but it's certainly never dull. 90 years ago, if you were some little farm boy on the Kansas prairie, winter wind blowing outside, then the adventures of a vet who could talk to animals, his voyages fraught with danger and shipwreck, and one of his trusting companions a nine year old boy - it must have been marvelous. Quite frankly, it still is. There is a marvelously far thinking passage where the doctor talks about discovering the North Pole long before anyone else - but the polar bears convince him to keep it a secret because people will come and ruin it all. The polar bears were right all along, weren't they?

Mary Beth

It's great to go back and see where this story originated from. Also interesting to see the style of children's literature from this time period (including some rather interesting political views popular at the time). The edition I read was true to the original and NOT edited for political correctness. The forward explained that it had been banned from schools in the US because of the racial slurs, so Hugh Lofting's son re-wrote certain sections to make it more socially acceptable.


This is a great book. It is so much fun, and such a change from the "Story of Mankind" that I finished for a reading challenge. It was fun to really get hooked on a book from the beginning. The characters are so much fun. Dr. Dolittle in particular is just fantastic! Lofting has a great imagination, and the premise of a doctor who can talk to animals is unique (it is no wonder it won the Newbery Award). The book teaches kids about natural history, animals, and geography. Plus, his adventurous spirit and fun outlook on life really appeals to kids. There is a strong undercurrent of good morals and values such as fairness, justice, sharing, and compassion.The version I read came with a disclaimer. It was edited in the late 1990s to temper some of the language and images that were acceptable in the 1920s but that would be quite offensive today. In my opinion, there were still some pretty offensive comments (eg: "He was very nicely dressed, especially for a black man.") Also, in one part of the book, the doctor becomes a leader of a group (I will omit major details because I don't want to make this a spoiler) and he essentially Westernizes them. It is clear that this is "better," so there is definitely an ethnocentric feeling about the text. Ironically, Lofting originally put characters in his books to expose kids to different cultures and racial groups in the interest of peace and understanding. So, I chalk it up to the fact that is was written in a different age. I would read this to my kids!


Fantastical adventures of young Tommy Stubbins, the amazing Doctor Dolittle, and a menagerie of talking animals. In many ways ahead of its time (1922) in terms of animal rights (the Doctor is firmly against lions and tigers in zoos, bullfighting, and scooping up fish to live in an aquarium) the book does have uncomfortable moments when Lofting is writing about human beings rather than animals. Most versions of "The Story of Doctor Dolittle" (which I haven't read yet) and the "Voyages" have been edited and re-written. If the books are no longer considered suitable for children that's fine, but to sanitize a Newbery winning book so it better suits the more enlightened values of a later time seems wrong to me. For all it's flaws, this is what Lofting wrote. Read it with your kids and discuss how much things have changed since the 1920s.

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