readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE RUN OF THE MILL SO FAR I CANNOT EVEN. It's got pacing! And good dialogue and overall good writing, and is not creepy! And is really, really environmentally sensitive and awesome - Dolittle has rants against keeping tigers and lions in zoos, and against bullfighting, and a Bird-of-Paradise snarks about being hunted for her feathers, and all the things. It's glorious. Plus, the little boy actually sounds like his right age, and generally... if I had read this book as a kid I would have loved it most entirely to pieces forever. :D

Dolittle is a bit colonialist when he tries to rant about politics (the whole spoilers ) arc has some pretty colonialist overtones), and there are a couple of n-bombs dropped by a parrot who's generally a sympathetic character, plus an African prince serves partly as embarrassingly comic relief - although only partly. Get through his first two or three chapters and he mellows down to a sort of... blend between Thor and Jeeves, I want to say. It's kind of epic, and definitely ahead of the rest of these books that've portrayed people of color! :P Just not far ENOUGH ahead, in this particular category. o_O

Conclusion: Four stars. FOR BEING AWESOME. If it weren't for the N-bombs and the colonialism, I'd flirt with giving it five. Definitely worth a read if you can get through those chapters.

ETA Oct 6, 2012: There is a bowdlerized version, but apparently it's very badly done. That link has a good overview of it. The Gutenberg version is complete and unabridged; so is the most recent Penguin paperback, which I read.
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Mmm...kay. We get to the first book I've heard of on the list! It is not enticing. ;-)

The edition I have is a brand new Signet Classic, checked out of the library's "Popular" section. I am now side-eyeing the library fairly hard, because I have heard it rumored that the Dr Dolittle books are pretty racist. (I could get into a whole debate over what belongs in a library's "Popular" section, but I won't. Unless people want to start it in comments. *g* I'm always up for polite discussion in comments.)

Me, myself, I've never read this book at all that I know of, and only a couple of excerpts from the first book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle - I know I've read the part where he learns to talk to animals from his parrot and becomes an animal doctor (Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee? is Parrot-speak for "Is the porridge hot yet?"; I spent SO MANY hours as a four-year-old trying to parse the syntax there... no wonder I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings at ten, come to think on), and I've read an excerpt about the Pushmi-Pullyu but I couldn't tell you which book it was from. Honestly, I didn't know there was more than one until I started poking around Newbery Medal history and learned that the first book was published the year before the Newberys started.

Looking at some other Newbery reading blogs (I've linked a few on the comm profile now), I suspect I'm going to start running across books I know from excerpts in ancient school readers but have never read in full. Some of the synopses sound very familiar.

But for now - off we go! With *reads back of book* Dr Dolittle and young Tommy Stubbins.

snippity snip CUT )

So there you have it! Insensitive in spots, definitely colonial, but so much better than most other things I've read from this list I can't even.

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