Doctor Dolittle is a reputable physician living with his sister in the small English town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. Being single, he has much love to share with his pet companions which eventually turns his home into a small zoo. This drives off many of his patients, bringing him to edge of bankruptcy. However, things turn around when his parrot Polynesia helps him learn the language of animals and he decides to use his newly acquired skills to open a veterinary practice.This book is a work of genius. There is poetry here, and fantasy and humour, but above all a number of creations in whose existence everybody must believe, whether they be children of four or old men of ninety, or prosperous bankers of forty-five. It is the first real childrens classic since Alice.Dolittles wealth raises and falls and when he is facing bankruptcy once more he receives an offer to help curing a monkey epidemic in Africa. He borrows supplies and a ship, takes all his loyal companions and heads out on a voyage. Unfortunately, he gets shipwrecked at the African coast and gets captured by Jolliginki a local who has been exploited by European colonists and wants no white men to walk his land. Somehow the band manages to escape and to find its way to the monkey kingdom where the situation is dire. Doolittle manages is able to help the monkeys and as a token of their appreciation they help him raise money to head home, but more challenges lay ahead of him.The Story of Doctor Dolittle is the first of his Doctor Dolittle books, a series of children's novels about a man who learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world.There are some of us now reaching middle age who discover themselves to be lamenting the past in one respect if in none other, that there are no books written now for children comparable with those of thirty years ago. I say written FOR children because the new psychological business of writing ABOUT them as though they were small pills or hatched in some especially scientific method is extremely popular today. Writing for children rather than about them is very difficult as everybody who has tried it knows. It can only be done, I am convinced, by somebody having a great deal of the child in his own outlook and sensibilities. Such was the author of "The Little Duke" and "The Dove in the Eagle's Nest," such the author of "A Flatiron for a Farthing," and "The Story of a Short Life." Such, above all, the author of "Alice in Wonderland." Grownups imagine that they can do the trick by adopting baby language and talking down to their very critical audience. There never was a greater mistake. The imagination of the author must be a child's imagination and yet maturely consistent, so that the White Queen in "Alice," for instance, is seen just as a child would see her, but she continues always herself through all her distressing adventures. The supreme touch of the white rabbit pulling on his white gloves as he hastens is again absolutely the child's vision, but the white rabbit as guide and introducer of Alice's adventures belongs to mature grown insight.Geniuses are rare and, without being at all an undue praiser of times past, one can say without hesitation that until the appearance of Hugh Lofting, the successor of Miss Yonge, Mrs. Ewing, Mrs. Gatty and Lewis Carroll had not appeared. I remember the delight with which some six months ago I picked up the first "Dolittle" book in the Hampshire bookshop at Smith College in Northampton. One of Mr. Lofting's pictures was quite enough for me. The picture that I lighted upon when I first opened the book was the one of the monkeys making a chain with their arms across the gulf. Then I looked further and discovered Bumpo reading fairy stories to himself. And then looked again and there was a picture of John Dolittle's house.