Hugh Lofting first wrote of Doctor Dolittle in letters home to his family while serving in the trenches of World War I. He was from England, but later moved to the United States. The character he created became the famous Dr. Dolittle. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, the second in the Dr. Dolittle series, is narrated by his travelling companion, Tommy Stubbins. Tommy Stubbins accompanied the doctor when he was a young boy and explains in the prologue that he is writing as an old man and may not remember everything perfectly, but if he has a question, he simply has to ask Polynesia, the parrot, to clarify.
So begins the fantastical story of Doctor Dolittle, which I really enjoyed reading. Maybe it was the sharp contrast between it and The Story of Mankind that made it so fun. Dr. Dolittle is patient, smart, responsible, persistent and lucky. He never lets his feathers get ruffled, even when the ship runs into the bank before they are out of the village; stowaways are discovered on board; or when he is made king against his will. (If any of you are familiar with Bob the Builder, you might get an idea of his calm manner, but with more smarts and fewer annoying characteristics.)
This book teaches kids that if they persevere in their dreams, they will succeed. For example, the doctor was at long last able to crack the code to the shellfish language, and Tommy realized his dream of becoming a naturalist despite coming from a very humble background.
We also learn to treat others with kindness and to find the good and talents in others. When Dr. Dolittle is invited to Tommy's home to ask his parents if Tommy can come be his apprentice, he gladly agrees and spends an evening with his family. They later put up a plaque something to the effect "Dr. Dolittle once played the flute here in 1840," kind of like "George Washington slept here."
I would definitely recommend this book to the young and young at heart.
Lofting, Hugh. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. Grosset & Dunlap Publishers. 276. Print.
(So how do you notate the year published when you can't find it in the book? There was an illustrations copyright 1998 by Sonja Lamut, but I don't see book copyright date. Well, I tried.)