Sunday 23 January 2022

Reviewing the Classics #12 The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Goodreads Summary:

John Dolittle is a highly respected doctor in the village
of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, yet he loves animals so
much that his house is soon full of them. With all his
patients scared away, and the expense of feeding
his menagerie mounting, a friend suggests that the
Doctor become a vet instead.

With the help of Polynesia the parrot, Doctor Dolittle
swiftly learns the language of the animals so that he
can talk to all of his new patients. However, when
 a message comes from Africa, telling of a terrible
sickness among the monkeys there, the Doctor
and his animal friends depart on a thrilling and
dangerous adventure that they are never likely
to forget.

I think everyone has heard of Doctor Dolittle. No matter if they read the books as a child, or simply watched one of the movie adaptations, I think it would be difficult to find someone in the Western world who hasn't heard of him. I vaguely remember reading some of the books when I was younger, but when I think of Doctor Dolittle, I think of the movie adaptation starring Eddie Murphy. This was one of my favourite movies as a child and I still love it to this day!

The Story of Doctor Dolittle is the first book in the series, and shows us how the doctor first starts talking to animals, and his adventure in Africa to cure the monkeys of a sickness. Although the book is a short, quick read, it is pretty action-packed, and follows the doctor and his animals across oceans, through jungles and into foreign lands. It is a book that will definitely capture the attention and imagination of children even today.

I love that we are introduced to a menagerie of different animals with their own personalities. These personalities are captured perfectly and are exactly what you would expect each animal to say if they could talk. I especially loved Gub Gub the pig, who was constantly complaining and thinking about food. I also loved the fictional Pushmi-Pullyu, a rare two-headed deer. Even though the animal is fictional, I felt that mentioning it was now extinct gave an important message about poaching. Sadly poachers have driven real life animals into extinction, so I felt that it gave children the important message that endangered species need to be protected not hunted, or they were inevitably meet the same fate as the Pushmi-Pullyu.

Something that I have mixed opinions about is censoring books. There was a chapter in the book that felt a little too short and underdeveloped, and after doing a little research, I discovered this was because a large chunk of the chapter had been removed due to a scene where a black prince wanted the doctor to turn his skin white so that a girl would like him. My general opinion is that classics should be preserved as they are, as it gives us a more accurate insight into the time period they were written in. We need to understand that these racist themes are obviously not okay, but are a part of history that shouldn't be deleted, as I feel that we need to learn from the past not act like it never happened. However, as this edition is aimed at young children, I can understand why the publisher chose to censor this book. Children are more susceptible to things that they read, and this could be particularly harmful if a child were to read an uncensored book without a responsible adult to explain that what they were reading wasn't an acceptable way to talk. Something I did take issue with however was that any mention of race had been censored, even to the point where “white man” had been replaced with “foreign man” and the African men being described as black had been omitted. Black and white are not offensive words and are perfectly acceptable words to describe a person's race, so it made no sense to me why these words were omitted. Race is a topic that should be discussed not ignored, so I felt this was a bad decision on the publishers' behalf.

The book itself is a fantastic children's classic that is easy to read. I was actually surprised that there wasn't too much archaic language, and the few words that children may not understand were conveniently explained in a glossary at the back of the book. Doctor Dolittle is definitely a classic that will enthrall children for years to come!

Friday 14 January 2022

Top 5 Books of 2021

I really didn’t read as many books as I’d have liked to last year, and despite saying I wouldn’t, I still ended up paying more attention to review requests than books I wanted to read. I changed my way of thinking towards the end of the year, and to no one’s surprise most of the books in my top 5 are those I read at the end of the year. This year I definitely want to continue doing this! I don’t seem to get many emails from publishers or authors anymore which is probably due to how inactive my blog has been recently, but although I am sad about this, it’s given me the opportunity to stop worrying about reviews, and go back to why I started this blog in the first place. To read books I know I’m going to like and rant about how much I love them! You might find I’m not reviewing the most anticipated releases, but as there’s so many bloggers out there who do just that I’m sure it won’t matter too much! With that said here are the five books I read last year that I loved the most!

5: The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy

One of the things I did manage to do last year was read more Middle Grade, and this one really stood out for me! It follows Marina, a girl from a lazy British seaside town where nothing really happens. After seeing a light on in the abandoned hut at the end of the pier, Marina decides it’s about time she had an adventure! She soon discovers William, a boy around her age with claws for hands, and tentacles coming out of his head. I loved how the story revolved around love, family and acceptance, and how despite being different to everyone else in the village, William found a kind family who accepted him. I loved how it showed children the importance of accepting people who are different from them, and to always be kind to their peers.

 4: The Nightsilver Promise

This was a fantastic debut novel by author Annaliese Avery. It follows Paisley, a young girl who realises her track is leading her towards death. This book was action packed, and I loved every second of it! I loved the message about how we can choose our own fates, and that life isn’t a path that is set out for us. The sequel is coming out sometime this Spring so I’m super excited to read it!

3: Heartstopper

I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK! I’m a little late to the Nick and Charlie party, but I read the first Heartstopper graphic novel last summer and loved it! When I read Solitaire a few years ago I was intrigued by these side characters, so I love that they have their own story to tell. I’m super excited to read the rest of the series, and of course I’m looking forward to the show coming out. If you want a cute romance and a cute dog then I definitely recommend Heartstopper!

2: Six of Crows

After having this book on my shelf for literal YEARS, I finally read it last year. This book was super hyped up, and as I didn’t really enjoy the Shadow and Bone series I was reluctant to read Six of Crows. However I ended up loving it, and I absolutely adored all the characters, particularly Jesper and Wylan. I also watched the Netflix adaptation of Shadow and Bone, and honestly I think they got the casting spot on. ALSO I LIKED MAL???? In the books I found Mal super annoying but show Mal is actually a pretty chill dude. I was more interested in the Crows than the main story, but I will say Ben Barnes as The Darkling IS PERFECT! I’m super excited for season 2, especially since Wylan has been cast and the actor is honestly super adorable and seems perfect for Wylan. I’m also looking forward to reading Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars!
1: Wayward Son

1- So this comes as no surprise but my #1 is Wayward Son, the sequel to Carry On, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned 100 times before is one of my all time favourite books. Although it wasn’t quite as good as Carry On I absolutely loved it, and I was so happy to have Simon and Baz back. Honestly I should have read this one a little earlier in the year, as travelling across America in a convertible really seemed like the perfect summer read. Any Way the Wind Blows would have also made it onto the list, but as I didn’t quite finish it before the year was out I’m just going to save that one for my 2022 list.

 So these were the books I loved the most in 2021! Sadly this list was pretty easy to make, as I think I only rated about three books 5 stars the whole year. I’m going to make sure my wrap up for this year will be a lot harder by reading some amazing books! Let me know if you read any of the books on this list and what you thought about them, and feel free to give me recommendations on what I should read this year.