Travels of Doctor Doolittle
Al Perkins with illustrations by Philip Wende
Random House, 1967
A few months back, my son saw the Rex Harrison Doctor Dolittle from 1967 for the first time (probably jumping the gun for a 2-year-old I know, but I just couldn't help myself) and loved it. So I was totally psyched when I came across what I suspect to be a movie tie-in from the time at Half Price Books. A Random House Beginner Book, it is a retelling of the original novel by Hugh Lofting. The controversial yet fabulously-named The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts was published in 1920 and was the first in what would become a long series about the man from Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
This retelling was written by Al Perkins and is (of course) appropriate for a first reader or as a read-aloud. It tells the story of the doc who could talk to the animals in a well-truncated version replete with long-limbed monkeys, Polynesian soldiers, Dab-Dab the duck, Jip the dog, good 'ole Gub-Gub the pig and the wondrous pushmi-pullyu.
When they got to the Equator, they saw some flying fishes.
The flying fishes said, "It is only 50 miles to Africa."
But then a great storm came up with thunder and lightning.
The wind howled. The rain poured.
The waves splashed over the boat.
Suddenly, there was a big "Boom!"
The ship stopped.
It rolled over on its side.
"Dear me," said the Doctor.
"We must have run into Africa.
It has animals and Africa, my son's two favorite things in the world, so I think we're sold on this one for the long haul.
Epilogue: Oh my god!.... Near, far, in our motor car/ Oh what a happy time we'll spend/ Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang/ Our fine four fendered friend... Just saw that Mr. Perkins did a fantasmogorical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for Random House in '68 as well. Consider it got! (Though I am gonna hold out on a viewing of the film just yet... Ian Fleming's bad guy spies sent by the Baron still give me the goosebumps even though I haven't set eyes on them in 25 years. Particularly that one with the black hat and the long nose. ACK!)
The Nose Book