Staying true to my new year’s resolution of reading one book per month, and after finishing the hilarious “Rich People Problems” the first month, I reached for The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, which I’ve had stuck in the closet for three years. But what’s more surprising though is that the world has had this book for about 100 years!!!!!! First launched in the 1920s! That perhaps explains why the name Dolittle is very familiar. But sadly this was the first time I got to read a book from its series.
For those planning to read it, I am warning you of spoilers ahead.
The book follows the story of Dr Dolittle – the famous naturalist who can speak to animals, narrated through the eyes of 12-year old boy Tommy Stubbins. The first wow moment in the film was when Stubbins first set foot in the doctor’s house, which was filled with all sorts of animals – from birds, dogs, squirrels, mice, pigs, monkeys to a lot more. We see here a duck being able to carry a lamp and other animals able to cook. In my mind, it was as mysterious and fascinating as the scenes in our favourite Harry Potter movies.
Aside from the book being easy to read (where chapters are merely continuations of a scene), it’s also light to the heart. I am amazed at all the characteristics of the doctor.
Always smiling amid adversity, empathetic even at his own inconvenience (attending to the sick right in the middle of supper), happy even when there’s nothing left (Read the chapter where their boat got destroyed by the storm), good with words and conversation, strong, mean and fights when he has to, knows how to read people and is firm with what he wants (ex: choosing his travel mates), persistent, always curious, can still work in his best self and intention despite not wanting what he was made to do (like being king).
If anything, this book is not about a man who can talk to animals. Dr. Dolittle teaches us how to be and what to do when out on a voyage. It’s about how we should choose to go about our lives and reach our goals in general.
We need to be the calm, intelligent, and the resourceful person that he is. We need people, and animals too, who are willing to go out with us on a voyage; people of various backgrounds and intelligence who will trust us and be of help to us.
This story doesn’t promise us a smooth sailing journey – but it does tell us that with the right amount of attitude, skill, and friends, we will get to our destination, no matter how long or how hard it takes.