‘The Story of Doctor Dolittle’ Remains a Delightful Tale of Adventure

By Catharine Li, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Embarking on a journey with a loyal crew of lovable creatures, the classic childhood tale of The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting details a former physician turned veterinarian’s endeavors with the animal kingdom. Lovable animal companions are brought to life, and through wonderful characterizations, remain no longer an element of imagination, and instead, pull young and old readers alike on an exciting adventure through the beauty of the African rainforest. 

The plot centers around Dr. John Dolittle, a respected, delightfully eccentric doctor with a deep affection for all wildlife, a passion that’s unfortunately led patients and townspeople to steer clear of his residence, driving him to near bankruptcy. Faced with tremendous financial misfortune, Dolittle confides in his pet parrot Polynesia, who begins encouraging the pursuit of veterinary practice, teaching him the secrets of the language of the community he’s grown so fond of. Notified of dire emergency, he receives a call from the monkey population, who have been devastated by a terrible disease and are in need of his aid. 

Borrowing a ship, he sets off with his crew of animals, Jip the dog, Dab-Dab the duck, Gub-Gub the pig, Too-Too the owl, Chee-Chee the monkey, Polynesia the parrot, plus a crocodile and a stowaway mouse, all given personalities of their own. The quest storyline was beautifully written with sudden twists and details that kept me on my toes every time. As a splendid protagonist, Dr. Dolittle’s support and caring relationships with each and every animal made for a heartwarming experience, igniting the inner bright, imaginative essence in my childhood. 

Lofting’s stories first appeared in letters back to his home to his children as a soldier serving in World War I. This book takes readers on an exciting journey through the jungles of Africa right from the comfort of their own homes. Original illustrations hand-drawn from the author are a lovely visual into the world he has crafted. Highlighting the beauty of eccentricity in light of a world that values conformity, the character’s relentless championing of animal’s rights despite economic hardship is a striking message that has stood the test of time, stressing the importance of recognizing and stopping injustice. 

The Story of Doctor Dolittle emerges triumphant with a touching, vivid tale of adventure, long celebrated in the hearts of children and literature. Delightfully imaginative short stories will appeal to every audience, and remains a classic read still to this day. 

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