What's Doctor Dolittle About

Doctor John Dolittle is a character created by Hugh Lofting and first introduced in 1920 in The Story of Doctor Dolittle. The second story, The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, won a Newbery Medal. In total, there are 12 stories that are part of the Doctor Dolittle series.

The series has inspired numerous films. It was first brought to the big screen in 1967 and starred Sir Reginald Carey Harrison—better known as Rex Harrison—as Dr. Dolittle. In 1998, it inspired another film, Dr. Dolittle, with Eddie Murphy cast as Dr. Dolittle. In 2020, the series inspired another film version, Dolittle, based largely on the second book in the series (The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle), with Robert Downey Jr. playing the titular role.

Doctor Dolittle Books in Order

Who Wrote The Doctor Dolittle Books

author & illustrator
Hugh Lofting

Hugh Lofting was the creator of the beloved Doctor Dolittle children’s book series. He created the idea for the stories when writing letters home to his children while serving in the British army during World War I to avoid filling his letters with the atrocities or boredom of war.

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle - Book #1
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The Story of Doctor Dolittle is one of the most delightfully imaginative stories in children’s literature, featuring the well-loved and eccentric doctor who learns to talk to animals. Unlike most doctors, Doctor Dolittle doesn’t treat humans; he treats animals. His house in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh is full of an eclectic mix of creatures, from Polynesia the parrot to Gub-Gub the pig. And in that house something amazing happens—the doctor learns how to communicate with his animals! Doctor Dolittle’s soon learns that the monkeys in Africa have become inflicted with a terrible disease, so with a team of trusty creatures by his side the kind-hearted doctor sets off on an action-packed adventure to save them. This beautiful paperback edition is illustrated with original line drawings from Hugh Lofting himself.

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - Book #2
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

This Newbery Medal–winning adventure, the second book in the ever-popular Doctor Dolittle series, finds the physician who can talk to animals setting sail in search of a missing colleague. Join the good doctor and his new assistant, nine-year-old Tommy Stubbins, as they hunt for Long Arrow, the world’s greatest naturalist. Together with Jip the Dog, Polynesia the Parrot, and other memorable characters, the doctor and Tommy travel from their home in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh to the Mediterranean sea and South America, braving a shipwreck on a mysterious island and encountering an enigmatic creature at the bottom of the ocean.

“Any child who is not given the opportunity to make the acquaintance of this rotund, kindly, and enthusiastic doctor/naturalist and all of his animal friends will miss out on something important,” declared wildlife biologist Jane Goodall. Doctor Dolittle has delighted readers for over a century, ever since Hugh Lofting enlivened his letters from the trenches of World War I with fancifully illustrated tales of a man with a special gift for communication. The doctor remains a beloved figure whose concern for the environment and promotion of peaceful coexistence among all the planet’s creatures form a fine example for readers of all ages.

Doctor Dolittle's Post Office - Book #3
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office is the third of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle books. Set on the West Coast of Africa, the book follows the episodic format of most other books in the series. In the beginning of the book, Doctor Dolittle helps to capture a slave trader’s ship, then organizes the postal service of a small African kingdom, Fantippo, ruled over by King Koko. The postal program grows into a worldwide postal and publishing service for the benefit of animals everywhere.

Doctor Dolittle's Circus - Book #4
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Doctor Dolittle’s Circus, written by Hugh Lofting and published in 1924, is set in England sometime between the original story and the later voyages narrated by Stubbins. It was the fourth novel in the series which was adapted into the film Doctor Dolittle. The story begins with Doctor John Dolittle who is looking for some money to earn to pay off a voyage to Africa.

Doctor Dolittle's Zoo - Book #5
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo is an animal home, not a prison, and the animals come and go as they please. But a visitor to the Rat and Mouse Club reveals a mystery at nearby Moorsden Manor, which Tommy Stubbins and the animals are determined to solve.

  • Doctor Dolittle's Caravan - John Dolittle takes his circus to London, where with the help of the canary Pippinella he stages a bird opera.

  • Doctor Dolittle's Garden - Doctor Dolittle’s garden is teeming with insects, so he decides to learn the insect languages and soon hears some fascinating stories. None is more fascinating than the tale of the giant moths, and he plans a trip to seek them out. But before he can set off, he is amazed when one of them turns up.

  • Doctor Dolittle in the Moon - A giant moth gives Doctor Dolittle and his friends a ride to the moon. Once there, the good doctor learns lots of new languages and meets a whole new world of interesting creatures, including the Man in the Moon and the beautiful Vanity Lilies.

  • Doctor Dolittle's Return - At long last, the anxious watchers at Puddleby-on-the-Marsh see the signal which means that Doctor Dolittle is on his way back from the moon! To everyone’s surprise, the Doctor arrives on the back of an enormous locust - and he, too, has reached an enormous size through years of living on the moon. Explanations and thrilling tales of adventure follow the Doctor’s return …

Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake - Book #10
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake is a Doctor Dolittle book written by Hugh Lofting. The book was published posthumously in 1948, 15 years after its predecessor. Fittingly, it is the longest book in the series, and the tone is the darkest; World War II took place before the book was published, during which Lofting had published his anti-war poem Victory for the Slain. The book contains passages that almost border on being misanthropic with some very powerful passages concerning war and Man’s inhumanity to man.

Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary - Book #11
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Doctor Dolittle and his animal friends listen as Pippinella the canary relates her exciting adventures as a cage bird and her quest to be free. Much of the story repeats Doctor Dolittle and the Caravan, though there are more details.

Doctor Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures - Book #12
Written & illustrated by Hugh Lofting
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From a voyage to Africa to a dog detective solving mysteries in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, these adventures are as enthralling as any in the Doctor’s eventful life.

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