Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - 1923


The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Illustrated by Sonja Lumat
Doctor Dolittle, Book 2

Pages: 276
First Published: 1922
Genre: children's animal fantasy, adventure
Awards: Newbery Medal 1923
Rating: 5/5



First sentence:

All that I have written so far about Doctor Dolittle I heard long after it happened from those who had known him -- indeed a great deal of it took place
before I was born.



Comments: In this second book of the series we meet Tommy Stubbins, the boy who becomes Dolittle's assistant. Once again Dolittle sets off on a voyage this time to meet the great botanist Long Arrow, son of Golden Arrow and along the way they meet many side adventures. Dolittle becomes set on learning the shellfish language, meeting the Great Glass Sea Snail, ends up on Spidermonkey Island, saves the island from floating into the Antarctic and helps the natives build a thriving city and society.

Both the 8yo and I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this book. Everything a child could want in a book is here: adventure, fantasy, science and animals all rolled into one. The action starts in the first chapter and is non-stop right to the very end which comes to a heart warming ending that leaves the reader with the feeling that there most certainly must be a sequel.

The edition I have is unaltered from the original text. At least I can find no indication that it has been altered, though the spelling has been Americanized. This edition is part of the Grosset & Dunlap Illustrated junior Library which has been in publication since the 1950s so I am fairly confident the text has not been edited. Since these books are often cited as being racist by PC fanatics I will note that I found absolutely nothing offensive in the book at all. The original illustrations have been omitted and replaced by a handful of full-colour plates illustrated in a cute fashion which I am not fond of. I will look for an original edition with Lofting's illustrations to replace this one someday.

Having read the first two together I can say for certain we will continue on with the series. The 8yo thought it was one of the best books we've read together and we both agree it is even better than the first book. Having read this as a child myself it is great to see that it lived up to my expectations and then some. Recommended!

2 comments:

Amanda (the librarian) said...

I am pretty sure this is a slightly abridged version, based on the information in this blog post and this New York Times article. You might want to compare your edition with the original at Project Gutenberg and see. I'm going to try to find your edition at my local public library (probably won't make it there until Saturday though) and compare it with the 1922 edition in my curriculum collection at my academic library.

bookchronicle said...

I just read the Yearling edition myself, which was edited, and even included an interesting few pages explaining why the decision was made.